Sunday of Thomas

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

We hear these words every year in the Pascha season. For the 40 days of the feast we drop the normal How are you! or Hi! or Good day! and we salute each other with: Christ is risen! Truly He is risen! For 40 days we remember every single day that this has indeed happened; that Christ our true God has died for us, but in His death He has trampled death by death, bestowing life on each one of us, as we lie in our symbolic earthly tombs, taking care of many other things but our souls and our salvation.

Our Lord has done many miracles: turning water into wine, healing the sick, restoring vision to the blind, even raising people from the dead. But His greatest miracle of all, the one that nobody but Him could do is His own resurrection. Our faith it is based on this fundamental and yet simple truth. It is so important that Saint Apostle Paul even said it in the First Epistle to Corinthians: “…if Christ is not risen, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins.”(1Co 15:17).

But many are, even nowadays, who doubt this truth. Many still believe that either Christ has not died at all, that all was a well done trick, maybe the greatest of all. Or maybe it was just a good lie that was spread around. Others believe that maybe when He came back and entered the closed doors and sat in the middle of the Apostles, as we saw today He was just a ghost or a group hallucination of the Apostles, because how otherwise he could do that?

Thinking this way they tend to forget that Christ is True man but also True God, that He is from the consubstantial and undivided Trinity, That has created everything, even the laws that they are accusing Him to have forgotten. Who else but the maker of the law could be allowed to change it? How can we, which cannot add one cubit to our stature(Luk 12:25) could have the courage to ask Him how He has done it? Was this miracle greater than raising Lazarus from the dead? Or turning water into wine in Cana?

But we want proof, and we are not alone, we see today Thomas, his disciple, who has followed Him during his journey through the country of Israel, who saw Him teaching, working miracles, raising people form the dead, He could not believe either. He had to see the wounds with his eyes, to touch them with his hands to be absolutely certain that is indeed Him, His Lord. And Christ allowed him to do it, but not only to convince Him, but generations after generations that His resurrection indeed has happened and it is not a scam, nor mass hysteria or pure hallucination.

Trying though to explain it in terms of how it physically happened it is impossible. For us to comprehend it is impossible, in the same way it is impossible to comprehend how God is one but in the same time three, How Jesus Christ is in the same time Man and God and part of the Holy trinity in the same time. These are mysteries we have to accept through faith, faith in the power of the Lord, and Faith in the testimony of those who saw this with their own eyes, the Apostles.  A Russian theologian said once that Orthodoxy is Christ seen through the eyes of the Apostles, not through the eyes of Mohammed, nor Luther, nor Confucius, nor anyone else preaching false teachings about Him. However, trying to explain though more that it was revealed to them can only lead us in error.

To better understand this I will tell you a true story. A spiritual Father from Romania, Fr. George, spent over 21 years of prison during communist times. And of course He has spent in prison many Pascha nights, without being allowed to participate in the Resurrection services. One Pascha night he was alone in his cell and because he could not participate to the service he started singing in his mind Christ is risen.He did that all night and after a few hours of praying he was flooded by a light beyond his imagination, an uncreated light that made him cry and rejoice in the same time. He stayed in this state of grace for few hours and then the door of his cell was widely opened by the cruelest guardian in the prison. But this time, being under the influence of the grace, He stood in from of him, and, not being afraid of him no more he addressed him with a sound and bold “Christ is risen!” He was expecting beatings, and shouting and the usual rest. But instead the guardian looked at him like under a spell and answered back “Truly He is risen”. He told me that in this moment he realized it was not the guardian who was speaking, but an angel that was coming for him as reassurance. After this powerful moment the guardian went back to his old habits and started to ironically ask him, tell me how you know that Jesus existed, have you ever seen him? And the Father started to explain himself in a way saying have you seen Stalin ever? No. But how do you know he exists? I saw his picture and so on. But trying to explain the existence of God and His Resurrection, he told me that he felt the grace of the Lord departing from Him. He realized then that the existence of God and His Resurrection cannot be explained. These are the mysteries of God, beyond our comprehension. He is who He is and He is risen from the dead. This is what we need to know and should be enough for our salvation.

My beloved brothers, let us depart today cherishing in our hearts the fundamental truth of our faith, a truth beyond comprehension but also without doubt.