Thomas Sunday - Antipascha
Christ is risen!
Today is the Sunday after the great feast of Pascha, the resurrection of our Lord and God Jesus Christ. On this Sunday we commemorate the Holy Apostle Thomas and the very important scene described for us in today’s Holy Gospel.
In the days and weeks following the crucifixion of our Lord, more and more of the disciples were reporting that they had seen and spoken with Jesus Christ. That He had risen from the dead as He had promised He would. The Apostle Thomas heard these reports from his friends, the other disciples, but he was overcome by doubt and uncertainty saying, ‘Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ Eight days later, the opportunity came for the Apostle Thomas. While they were gathered together in a shut room, the Lord appeared to them and invited Thomas to reach out and touch Him, to feel for himself the wounds of the crucifixion, and to know that this was indeed Christ risen from the dead. Having felt the wounds, Thomas fell at the Master’s feet and said, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus replied, ‘Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’
What an amazing revelation and message we have before us in today’s Gospel!
Let us begin by thinking for a moment about what our Lord did for Apostle Thomas… Our Lord Jesus Christ, after having deigned to become incarnate, to lie in a lowly manger as a human infant, to subject Himself to this world and to the devil’s temptations, and to the humiliation of His voluntary sufferings and death… After all this, when He has already emerged triumphant and reappears in His glorified body, He continues now to demonstrate His mercy and tender lovingkindness by offering and subjecting Himself to physical examination by Apostle Thomas.
What astounding compassion! What generosity of Self!... Christ does this out of love, out of concern for what is needed for Thomas’ faith and salvation. This is always God’s concern for each and every one of us. He will do with us and permit in our lives whatever is necessary in order to facilitate our salvation.
Think also for a moment about what it is that Christ offers, and that Thomas beholds and touches that gives him his faith. Christ offers to Thomas His wounds… the marks of His sacrificial love for mankind. Isn’t it interesting to note that the glorified and resurrected Body of our Lord still bore the scars of His crucifixion?
There is a lesson for us in this… So often we have expectations that God will remove from us all of our scars, our wounds, our troubles. But this is not always the case… sometimes we must humbly and patiently accept bearing those wounds – but those wounds and scars shall also be transformed and transfigured by the Grace of God.
Thomas touches the incision in Christ’s side from the sword that pierced Him, he touches the holes in Christ’s hands from the nails that held him to the cross… and he falls down before Him proclaiming: ‘My Lord and my God!’
I would like to share with you a sermon of St Nikolai Velimirovich for this Sunday of the Apostle Thomas… St Nikolai writes:
When the Apostle Thomas felt the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the resurrected One in her soul, she cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the resurrected One, he acknowledged: ‘My Lord and my God!’ When the pagans, in amazement, observed how the countless numbers of martyrs joyfully undergo pains and asked them: ‘Who is this Christ?’ All of them replied: ‘My Lord and my God!’ When the scoffers ridiculed the army of ascetics and asked them: ‘Who is He, for Whom they took upon themselves the awesome burden of mortification? They all had one answer: ‘My Lord and my God!’ When the scorners derided the virgins who vowed their virginity and asked them: ‘Who is He for Whom they renounced marriage?’ They all had one answer: ‘My Lord and my God!’ When the avaricious in astonishment asked the very wealthy: ‘Who is He for Whom they distribute their wealth and become beggarly?’ All of them replied, one and the same: ‘My Lord and my God!’
Some have seen Him and have said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some have only heard Him and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some have only felt Him and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some have only observed Him in the fabric of events and in the destinies of peoples and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some have felt His presence in their lives and cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some have recognized Him by some sign, on themselves or on others, and cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Still some have only heard about Him from others and believed and cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Truly, these last ones are the most blessed! Let us also exclaim, with all our hearts, regardless of how we have come to recognize Him or how we have come to learn about Him: ‘My Lord and my God!’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ… May we all be strengthened in our faith by the glorious good news of our Lord’s resurrection. May we all with one mind and one accord glorify Him by proclaiming Him as our Lord and our God. And may we all with one voice shout the good news of His resurrection…
Christ is risen!