That was exactly the challenge facing Thomas. He was very close to the other apostles; but he was not ready to take the word of even so many eye witnesses, no matter how close they were to him in their friendship. He wanted to experience the occasion that the apostles had been talking about. He wanted to see the Risen Jesus with his very own eyes. Undoubtedly, he is willing to believe, or at least disposed to believe. But he is afraid of being wrong; if that happened, he would look foolish.
Thomas had not yet given in to the gift of faith. It’s true that the other apostles seemed to have an advantage over him; they had actually seen the Risen Jesus. But Jesus is calling his followers to a deeper level of trust. So, when he does appear to Thomas, and Thomas makes his profession of faith, Jesus drives the point home. He tells Thomas, and us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That was probably a bit of a scolding to Thomas. But it was also a special gift to us: we are indeed blessed if we believe without seeing!
The gift of faith is awesome! It normally comes to everyone from hearing, not from seeing. St. Paul went out of his way to drive that point home (Romans 10). Every gift calls for a response. God will not force his gifts upon us; he offers them freely, widens them to us—but then it is up to us to accept or reject those gifts. God will reveal himself to us in many different ways, but each disclosure calls for a response.
Faith is our response to God’s self-revelation. It is our free agreement to the whole truth that God has revealed to us. What have you done in your life to spread the faith to others?