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Thomas Sunday: May 12, 2024 (John 20:19-31)

Despite the closed doors of the dwelling where the disciples were gathered, our Saviour, in a genuinely miraculous display, entered and stood in their midst. He greeted them with His customary words, 'Peace be unto you.' Then, profoundly, He showed them His hands, feet, and sides. As our Lord stood in their presence, He took some food and ate before them, thus assuring them of His bodily Resurrection. However, Thomas, who was not present, did not believe their testimony. He declared, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:25). Therefore, after eight days, on this day, when the disciples were gathered again, and Thomas was among them, the Lord Jesus came while the doors were shut entirely, as He did before. As our Lord stood among them, He said, 'Peace be unto you'; then He said to Thomas, 'Bring thy finger hither, and behold my hands; and bring thy hand hither, and thrust it into My side: and be not unbelieving, but believing.'

Upon seeing and examining the Master's wounds, Thomas, filled with newfound faith, exclaimed, 'My Lord and my God.' In this profound declaration, he acknowledged the dual nature of the God-man, Jesus Christ, as both human and divine (Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-29).

The day following Pascha, the first Sunday after is known as Antipascha. This term, often misunderstood as 'in opposition to Pascha,' actually means 'in the stead of Pascha.' It signifies the Church's unique decision to consecrate every Sunday of the year to commemorate Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ. This decision, rooted in deep reverence and understanding of the significance of Pascha, is a testament to the Church's commitment to keeping the Resurrection of Christ at the forefront of our minds and hearts throughout the year.

In John 20:21-23, we see Jesus giving a particular task to His disciples. He breathes on them, symbolizing the giving of the Holy Spirit, and commissions them to continue His work on earth. He also grants them the authority to forgive sins. Empowering the disciples with the Holy Spirit and the authority to forgive sins is significant in the Orthodox understanding. It signifies the continuation of Christ's mission through His Church, with the apostles passing on this authority to bishops and presbyters through apostolic succession.

Moving on to John 20:24-29, we encounter the story of Thomas, who famously doubted Jesus's resurrection until he saw and touched His Lord's wounds. In Orthodox tradition, Thomas's doubt is not condemned but celebrated as a beacon of hope because it led to a profound transformation. His doubt was not a rejection of truth but a sincere desire for clarity. When Thomas's doubt was resolved by encountering the risen Christ, it became a profound faith. The confession of Thomas that Jesus is 'My Lord and my God' is a pivotal moment affirming Christ's divinity. This transformation from doubt to faith is a powerful lesson for all believers, teaching us that honest questioning can lead to a deeper and more profound understanding of God's truth.

In Christ, love Jared W Campbell

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