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 a truly remarkable scene is placed before us in this Gospel account.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I don’t know which sentiment is stronger for me as I behold this scene and as I think of my part in it… On the one hand I am uplifted by awe and gratitude in witnessing the unfathomable humility and kindness of God. And on the other hand, I shake my head in sorrow and shame for the insatiable presumption of mankind, that the generosity and mercy of God is never enough for us.
Think for a moment about what our Lord did for Apostle Thomas… Our Lord Jesus Christ, the pre-eternal second Person of the Holy Trinity, after having abased Himself 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 even to the humiliation of His voluntary sufferings and death… After all this, when He has already broken the bond of hades and emerged triumphant and reappears in His glorified body, He continues now to demonstrate His humility and mercy and tender lovingkindness by offering and subjecting Himself to physical examination by Apostle Thomas.
He invites the Apostle Thomas to feel the imprint of the nails and to thrust his hand into the wound upon His side. How incredible is that?... He 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.
And Christ our Lord does not stop at offering Himself to Thomas… He sees to it that His very Body and Blood will be offered to you and to me through the Mystery of the Consecration of the offering of Bread and Wine in the Divine Liturgy.
Thomas touches His side and falls down declaring: ‘My Lord and my God!’ What about us? We, who consume His Body and His Blood and unite ourselves to Christ in such an incredible and intimate way?
What more can we possibly ask of God? He has given us everything! He has extended Himself to us in ways we can barely even comprehend.
Having come to these holy days of Pascha, we experience the joy and the mystery of the Self-sacrificing goodness of God. A God Who reaches out to His creation and offers nothing less than Himself and His Life in love. A God Who is triumphant and Who tramples down death by taking death upon Himself and crushing it by His Life-Creating Divinity.
How can we not fall down upon our knees declaring: ‘My Lord and my God!’? How can we not respond to such love with love?
And that is precisely what Christ asks of us, and all that He asks of us… that we respond to His love with love. God grant us the courage to do so. To fear nothing for the sake of that love.
The Apostle Thomas was blessed to behold the risen Christ and our Lord said: ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is His blessing to us if we would offer our faith to the One Who offers Himself to us.
Christ is risen!