Blessed are those who will believe after “seeing”

Before we begin, I would like to warn you that the following text contains a free interpretation of some biblical passages and does not adhere to the doctrine of the Christian Catholic Church.

Blessed are those who have believed without seeing!(Jn. 20:29), said the risen Jesus to the “skeptical” Thomas, as soon as the latter, at the second appearance of Christ, finally became aware of the presence of the one whom in life he had considered his Master.

Jesus shows the wounds to Thomas before uttering the phrase

John’s gospel, as well as his other texts, is an esoteric writing, full of concepts that are not easy to understand, and it is not at all surprising that the three synoptics do not record any trace of this exceptional episode.

Let us analyze the incident from a somewhat less worldly perspective: the risen Jesus, Christ, visits the Twelve, but among them is not Thomas called Didymus. The apostles are stunned, and as soon as Thomas arrives, before he can even utter a word, they announce to him, “We have seen the Lord!” Christ was fully aware of the absence of one of his apostles. Still, the text contains no information suggesting he was expecting any message addressed to Thomas. Instead, the appearance seems fleeting, followed by an equally rapid disappearance.

Once he hears the announcement of the other apostles, Thomas does not, contrary to what is usually assumed, show any doubting tendencies toward the event itself (e.g., accusing his companions of insanity or of being in the grip of the devil) but instead makes it clear that his pseudo-act of faith will have to be conditional on “passing three “tests” that we might call “initiatory” in nature.

The “claims” of Thomas (a most enlightened apostle) are not to be taken literally, if only because any man with four scars in the established places would have been eligible- a condition too trivial for a learned mystic like St. John the Evangelist.

Let us, therefore, try to understand what these trials consist of and what kind of initiation the apostle Thomas seems to want to “celebrate.” He states that he wants to:

  • Check for nail and wound marks (visually)
  • Put your finger in the holes left by the nails
  • Putting the finger in the hole left by the spear that pierced the ribs

We first note that there are 4 holes: two for the wrists, 1 for the feet, and 1 for the side. Recalling that one of the senses of the crucifixion is the descent of the spirit into matter (which St. John also declares in the prologue itself) “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14), a concept that kabbalistically is expressed in the transmutation of the Tegrammaton (IHVH) into the Pentagrammaton (IHShVH), the pronunciation of which is Yahshuah and where the letter Shin symbolizes precisely the spirit descended in the center of the unpronounceable name, it can be inferred that the visual verification of the four holes could correspond to the verification that the immolation did in fact leave the marks of matter in the human body of Christ.

But why so much zeal? The resurrected Jesus Christ could have manifested Himself in His heavenly splendor, thus leaving little room for any digression; nevertheless, His mission is to make a few chosen people take note not of His divinity but instead of His embodied role as Shekhinah, or divine presence in the material world of Malkuth (aimed at “raising” that level to the world immediately above, Yetzirah, the cosmic level). To accomplish this arduous task, Jesus Christ is therefore “compelled” to simultaneously show the two “sides” of his nature (not dualistic, but not entirely monistic either), and to do so, he uses the enlightened apostle Thomas.

Once the holes left by the nails and the spear are verified, however, Thomas is not completely satisfied: he desires something more, which, daring terminology that might scandalize the more orthodox, is equivalent to the sexual act. Indeed, he desires to introduce his finger into the wounds (analogous to coitus) to “feel” union with the risen Christ, to become one with him through the most profound and most natural contact. Jesus does not offer any resistance; on the contrary, in an almost “family-like” way, he invites Thomas to perform this task and to ascertain his real identity.

The ending of the chapter is as significant as it gets and echoes the title I decided to give to this post, “Blessed are those who will believe without having seen.” Seen, not touched. John’s gospel is evident in not mentioning subsequent actions and speaks only of “vision.” But in what sense can such people, contemporary or future, call themselves “blessed”? The phrase, quoted as closing the passage, seems to be deliberately provocative: for the important thing was not to believe in the resurrection (understood in the transfigured sense) since Jesus had already resurrected Lazarus long before he did so with himself, but rather to be sure that “Christlikeness” had permeated matter making it again a “temple for the spirit.”

Thomas’ gesture is initiatory in that the resurrected Jesus Christ through it becomes, for all intents and purposes, “Word made flesh” to bring the pure material essence back to a higher level, where all men are already gods. Their only task is to discover that nature (i.e., to discover their inner Master) and to live it until their physical death is thus the viaticum for every man to come so that he can find his “bliss” without being able to see neither nor even “touch” the partial materiality of the Shekhinah. The other apostles, though more “gullible” (in a good sense), are also involved for the second time during the visit with Thomas, so they are part of the group who, though they believed out of excessive dogmatic faith, from that moment on can call themselves blessed since Thomas performed for them the extreme, unique and hieratic Eucharist.

Reference Gospels:

The Complete Gospels: The Scholars Version
  • The Complete Gospels is the first publication to collect the canonical gospels and their extracanonical counterparts, from the first and second centuries, under a single cover
  • These extracanonical gospels are independent of the canon, and significantly contribute to our understanding of the developments in the Jesus tradition leading up to and surrounding the New Testament
  • Each chapter comprises:
  • - An updated translation of the gospel
  • - An introduction that sets the text in its ancient and historical contexts and discusses the overall structure and central themes

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