Last week, I wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic has created fear, doubt, uncertainty, and feelings of isolation and loneliness for many of the people of our country. I also wrote about Saint Thomas, the apostle who was told by his fellow apostles that they had seen the risen Lord. Upon hearing the claim that they had seen Jesus, Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25. Thomas was later chastised by Jesus when He told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29.
After Jesus died on the cross, Thomas was seized with fear, doubt, and uncertainty. He reacted to those emotions by isolating himself from his friends and loved ones. It wasn’t until he came out of isolation and reunited with his fellow apostles that he was told that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Is there anything that Thomas could have done to appropriately deal with the fear, doubt, and uncertainty that he experienced after the death of Jesus? Is there anything that people can do today to deal with the fear, doubt, uncertainty, and isolation that they are experiencing as a result of the pandemic?
In a moment, I’ll explain what Thomas should have done and what the people of today should be doing, but first, I want you to consider something. We know that when Jesus initially appeared to His apostles after He had risen from the dead, two of His original 12 apostles were not present: Judas and Thomas. Was anyone else in the room with the 10 apostles when Jesus appeared to them?
There is a strong likelihood that there was one other person in the room at that time. The person that I am referring to was the only person who had a direct physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual connection with Jesus. It was the same person who the 10 apostles went to for guidance, support, comfort, and hope after Jesus died on the cross.
Who was that person? It was the Mother of God. At that time, there was no one else on Earth who was more qualified than she was to care for, comfort, and console the men who had developed a deep and abiding love for Jesus and were devastated by the sudden turn of events that led to His death.
We don’t know very much about this woman who the angel Gabriel said was “full of grace.” There are only seven occasions recorded in Sacred Scripture when she spoke, and only two of those occasions involved conversations between her and Jesus. The first conversation occurred after she found her 12-year-old son Jesus in the temple after He had been lost for three days. The second conversation took place at a wedding reception in Cana. Here’s what happened at the wedding reception, as reported by Saint John:
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. John 2:1-7.
After that, the water was miraculously turned into wine.
There are many Protestants and non-Catholics who claim that our Lord’s reference to His mother as “woman” meant that she was not to be given any more respect or significance than anyone else. Nothing could be further from the truth. Do you know why our Lord referred to His mother as “woman”?
According to Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, when our Lord referred to His mother as “woman,” He was signaling to her that if He did what she asked him to do — perform His first public miracle — her role in the world would change forever. After His miraculous powers were revealed to the public, in addition to being His mother, she would become the mother of all mankind, but that would only happen after she was forced to endure His suffering and death.
This new role for the mother of Jesus was confirmed when moments before He died, He looked down at Mary and made her the mother of all mankind. Here’s how Saint John recorded the event:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. John 19:26-27.
Catholic tradition tells us that at the moment that Jesus made that statement, Mary was no longer only His mother, but she was, from that moment forward, also the spiritual mother of each one of us — a mother that we could depend on and turn to any time that we were in need. That’s exactly what the 10 apostles who were in the room when our Lord initially appeared to them did after His death on the cross. They went to Mary for the guidance, support, and comfort that they needed in order to deal with our Lord’s death.
But there was one apostle who failed to go to his newly appointed spiritual mother for assistance. It was Thomas. Instead of turning to her for guidance, support, and comfort, he tried to handle the crisis that he was going through on his own, which magnified his feelings of fear, isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty. If he had gone to Mary like his fellow apostles did, he would not have later doubted the mercy and power of the Son of God.
The Mother of God was and still is the “woman” that our Lord lovingly gave to each of us as our own spiritual mother. She has the power and authority — given to her by Almighty God — to assist us in the same way that she assisted our Lord’s apostles.
It’s a shame that so few people know that all they need to do is call out to her in prayer and she will do the same for them as she did for her Son’s apostles. She will dissipate their fear, wipe away their doubts, and teach them how they can imitate her profound humility, her lively faith, her heroic patience, her angelic sweetness, and her divine wisdom. But her assistance is not automatic. Before we can expect her to help us, we must be willing to establish and maintain a relationship with her.
According to several of the Doctors of the Church — saints who have been recognized as having made a significant contribution to Catholic doctrine and theology — the best way to establish and maintain a relationship with the Blessed Mother is to pray her rosary every day, while doing your best to meditate on its mysteries. If you do this, in addition to providing you with the guidance, support, and comfort that you need, she will continually help you develop a greater love for Jesus. She will also help you to recognize what you have been called by Jesus to do and to then follow through by doing whatever he tells you to do.
I just revealed to you the best kept secret of the Catholic Church.