Growing up in India, Prince knew the story of St. Thomas and how he had doubted the disciples when they told him that Jesus had risen from the dead. It wasn’t until Thomas had touched the wounds of Jesus that his eyes were opened and he believed. Little did Prince realise that a similar experience would change his life forever.
He put his hands into the wounds of Jesus
I have always admired St. Thomas who was one of the disciples of Jesus. Although he doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead, he went on to experience the unconditional love of God by that ‘touch of faith’ when he put his hands into the wounds of the risen Christ. This had an amazing impact on him. He was so inspired to evangelise that he took the Good News all the way to India, where I come from. The Indian Church can be traced right back to St Thomas.
My ‘Doubting Thomas’ Faith
I was brought up as a good Catholic boy by my very devout parents and my faith was based on what they taught me. My first real experience of God’s power was at a retreat when I was fifteen years old. I would say that my faith was like Doubting Thomas’s at the time. Many people were testifying to being healed and receiving miraculous cures but I was sceptical and always tried to work out the scientific reality behind what I thought of as these ‘magic shows’.
I didn’t realise, or was not ready to accept, that God’s amazing power was behind all these miracles. I suspected that they might be actors put there by the leaders to trick us and to prove their point. However, I was always keen to listen to spiritual talks, to learn more about the Gospel stories and hear about the personal faith experiences of others.
I wanted to get closer to God
I nevertheless wondered why I didn’t have any of the experiences that others claimed to have, even though I had tried to fast and pray during the retreat. I wanted to get closer to God, but nothing seemed to be happening for me. On the third day, while sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, I pleaded with Jesus to show me his presence or give me some powerful experience so that I could also be motivated to show others his presence and love. But that night, I didn’t get any answer from God.
‘I need a powerful experience from you today!’
The next day, the Gospel at Mass was from Matthew 17: 20, where Jesus says ‘If you have just a little faith, even the size of a mustard seed, then you can ask this mountain to go and fall into the sea and it will.’ This Gospel line struck me powerfully, as if God was answering my prayers from the night before. That night during Adoration the priests were sprinkling holy water on all the people gathered in the hall. I prayed to Jesus, ‘I need a powerful experience from you today, please, Lord.’ I cried for the first time while praying and suddenly the words of the Gospel struck me again as if someone was whispering it to my heart. I suddenly realized that it was Jesus. I knew at that moment that Jesus was present and active and had heard my prayer.
I Reached Out My Fingers
Then I saw a priest coming towards me sprinkling holy water. I could see that people in front of me were receiving an anointing and blessing and I desperately hoped that I would receive some of this anointing. I waited for the water to fall on me, but nothing happened. Not losing faith, this time my prayer was more sincere and from my heart, I bowed down fully on the floor eagerly awaiting God with my eyes closed.
Then suddenly a voice came from inside my heart: ‘Open your eyes.’ So I opened them and I saw two drops of holy water on the floor in front of me. Something inside me was telling me to touch those little drops. I reached out the fingers of my right hand and slowly moved towards the drops. I was reaching out with a firm faith that something would happen to me now for definite.
I remembered the story of Thomas who reached out to touch the wounds of Jesus, (John 20: 24-29) and I reached out with the hope of that woman who touched Jesus’s cloak and was healed (Mark 5: 25-34). These two Gospel passages were burning in my heart as I eagerly focused on Jesus with my body, mind and soul. Then without hesitation, I touched the drops and to my surprise (it was a terrific shock), I experienced something like electric pulses passing through my fingers. I could feel the pulses travelling to my heart first, then radiating to everywhere else in my body like a little shock wave. I thought ‘Wow! God is here!’
A wonderful joy radiates in my soul
I thanked and praised God for giving me such an amazing experience of his mercy. I glorified and praised him along with the crowd for his answer to my humble prayer. Then, while I was praising him another strange thing happened. I started talking in funny words. It was the gift of tongues!
From that moment on, a wonderful joy radiates in my soul whenever I talk about the Word of God and spiritual things. Since that retreat I have had a great desire to bring more people to Jesus by evangelising, and I believe that it is my lifelong mission to let others know about Jesus Christ as the only saviour and redeemer for the forgiveness of our sins. Ever since then, to live for Christ has been the greatest desire in my heart, because he knows me and he loves me, even though I am a sinner. That’s his unconditional love!
Written by Prince Paulose