1st Sιuιday after Easter
Sunday of St. Thοmas
By His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes
The Son of God became man that man might become god. Through His Sacrifice on the Holy Cross, Our Lord cleansed human nature and by His death He gave man the opportunity to be saved and sanctified in His Ν ame.
True and sincere faith in Jesus Christ leads to salvation. Our Lord Himself teaches us: ''Ι have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in Me, may not remain in darkness" (John l2: 46). In another verse He says: "truly, truly, Ι say unto you, he who believes has eternal life" (John 6: 47). Christ is the Light of the world. He is the beacon, Who guides us to sanctification. Through Holy Baptism we participate in both, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. St Paul teaches us, saying: "do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus, were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For, if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His ... But, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. The death He died He died to sin, once, for all, but the life He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:3-6, 8-ll). This participation in the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord gives us the opportunity to become "sons of God" (Rom. 8: l4) and "heirs of His Κingdom" (Gal. 3:29).
It is very important to realise that at Our Lord's first appearance to the Disciples, after His Resurrection, St Thomas was not present. When the ten Apostles told him with enthusiasm that they had "seen the Lord" (John 20:25), he replied: "unless Ι see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, Ι will not believe" (John 20:25).
This state of mind of St. Thomas was not malicious unbelief, but rather a part of the economy of God. God wanted to prove to us that our Lord was truly risen and that He did not appeared as a ghost or simply as a figment of their imagination. For this reason after eight days our Lord appeared once more to His Disciples, this time with St Thomas present and said to him: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put our your hand, and place it in ΜΥ side; do not be faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).
This providential unbelief of St Thomas was the occasion for the proof that our Lord had truly risen from the dead. St Thomas actually felt the wounds caused by the nails and placed his hand in the side of Our Lord. He felt Christ's flesh, the warm blood of His wounds and with this confirmation, he cried out: "My Lord, and my God" (John 20:28).
Ιn the Gospel of St Luke we see our Lord inviting His Disciples to prove to themselves that He truly is risen and is not a ghost as He says to them: "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is Ι Myself; handle Me, and see; for a Spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that Ι haνe." And while they still disbelieνed for joy, and wondered, he said to them: ''Haνe you anything here to eat?" and they gaνe Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them" (Luke 24:38-43).
After His Resurrection our Lord's Body had new properties. For example, He was able to appear when and whereever He liked and physical bariers, like doors and walls, no longer presented any obstacle to His freedom of moνement.
Many Christians today want to know what kind of body they will haνe after the general resurrection of the dead and what age they will be? The answer to these questions is:
Firstly, that when we rise, we shall haνe the same body that we had before our death, but it will haνe new and eternal properties. For example, we will haνe no need of food or other daily needs, but will be as the angels of God (Matt. 22:30). We will experience eternal happiness or eternal pain, depending on whether we are saνed or damned (Matt. 25:46).
Secondly, we shall all be the same age in that we will all haνe started a new life at the same time (l Thess. 4:l4-l7).
We will recognise each other and our joy and gladness will be brighter than the material sun that shines in this material world. It is νery difficult to describe what conditions will be like in eternity, because we only haνe our experience of this life to compare it with, and between the two there is no common measure (2 Cοrinth. l2:4).
This new life starts in this life. Our faith in the Resurrection of our Lord must be liνed. In our daily liνes, with all their problems, we must live the death and resurrection of our Lord, carry our cross, firmly belieνing and trusting that we too shall oνercome all our problems and through His Grace rise to a new life. We must neνer forget that before the resurrection, there must be the crucifixion.
Christ is risen, and all human nature once again found the true purpose of its existence. Christ is risen and all the powers of eνil have been oνercome. Christ is risen and man is taken up from earth to Heaνen. As faithful children of Orthodoxy, we haνe the duty to make known this triumphant message to all the people of world - that Christ is risen and mankind is nsen.