The Gospel of John concludes its first ending (some scholars argue that chapter 21 was added later by John) with the witness of doubting Thomas. After Thomas had an opportunity to see the wounds of Christ, he exclaimed, My Lord and My God!
I have heard priests from time to time whisper My Lord and My God as they genuflect after the consecration at liturgy. But it is not part of the rite – there is no reference to My Lord and My God in the liturgical book in the United States. So where did the phrase come from? In the Latin Mass, Dominus Meus, Deus Meus was a traditional though not required response after the consecration. After all, we then recognize the true presence of Jesus. I am wondering whether the priests imitate their Irish brethren, who continue the practice of saying My Lord and My God after the consecration. Any thoughts?
The Holy Father’s chief liturgist also has something to say about John 20:28. Speaking of the need to restore the idea of liturgy as a time of adoration, Rome’s top liturgist recently said that we must maintain the same sense of awe and respect that Thomas the Apostle had when he encountered Jesus in the upper room.
Now back to bible study. Scholars call John 20:28 a “literary inclusion” since it mirrors a similar passage elsewhere in the Gospel of John. And which passage would that be? It would the testimony of Nathaniel in Chapter one of John. Compare the testimonies of the disciple Nathaniel and the apostle Thomas, and the response of Jesus to each:
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”
And from chapter 20:
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Evangelical turned Catholic Scott Hahn has written two books on Holy Scripture and the Liturgy – “The Lamb’s Supper” and “Letter and Spirit.” As an aside, “The Lamb’s Supper” is one of the best selling books of all time on the subject of scriptural theology.