Thomas Sunday or antipascha
April 26, 2020
April 26, 2020
The divine hymnographer chants; ω καλι απιστία του Θωμά, τον πιστόν Τάς καρδιάς, ιεζ επιγνοσιν ιξέ. Oh blessed doubt of Thomas, leading the believers hearts to true knowledge.
After the passing of the pascha, with its pleroma of sacred moments and step by step remembrances of Our Lord Christ’s revelation to us spelled out in ‘worship, psalmody, the reading of scripture, & in Eucharistic liturgy today we are given the gospel narrative of Thomas as a window to peer into the early days of the apostles.
The apostle is known by several quotes revealing a character that is both pragmatic and rational, yet a bit on the side of sarcasm or as we say today skepticism. As the Lord turns to go to Bethany where “they just sought to kill you” Thomas, seeing the Lord is not listening to the reasoning of the disciples says “‘come let us go die with him” ‘As Our Lord spells out the mysteries at the last supper Thomas again interjects “Lord how can we follow you we do not know where you are going” And of course in this gospel account here he speaks an ultimatum of sorts; by Gods providence having been absent at the Lords appearing. Unless I 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.......thus speaks Thomas boldly.
Thomas is the symbol of the man of reason; good faith and loyalty conflicted with that which cannot be possible by any stretch of logic. He is the good and faithful follower, shattered by the loss of his blessed Lord, and wounded with the resultant cynicism; and standing at the dawn of an entirely different reality, yet he is unable to make the leap of faith, the central mystery of the faith, to believe in ones heart that Jesus is risen from the dead and though presently unseen is indeed still with us. With us in the flesh, crucified in the flesh, born in the flesh, and finally God incarnate. Not a phantasma. Is not Thomas exactly like the man of our times? Today’s man, modern man, powerfully intellectual, technically savvy and standing upon a vast technological infrastructure, scientifically grounded on compiled facts wherein seeing is believing, reasonable in a harmonic way with a reasonable social understanding yet at a loss of word and deed as it pertains to the Lord of heaven and earth, the messiah, Christ and His church founded upon the holy apostles. Here modern man is weak and blind. Here he discounts Christ as a fable or a philosopher or at best another holy man amongst many. But is it reasonable?
Surely reason is a gift given to man who discerns his way upon the earth above all other animate creatures, creating and altering his environment to suit him, he is feared by all creatures. He masters the waves, the skies, even venturing to space, leaping up as it were with fiery blasts then coming down to tell the story. Who plumbs also the inner workings of the body, and the realm of physics with its inviolate laws as well as atomic science. Who measures and devises, speaks in linguistic excellence, creates high art, and government by law and justice. Man created a little lower than the angels, in the image and likeness of God.
Man is however deluded to believe that he has achieved these things without the aid of the most high. And suddenly he is made weak and helpless at the mere thought of death and in his pride is caught in a snare having considered not his creator nor sought Him. Death comes and all of his prowess is as nought. All of his achievements brought to ashes all of his plans cut short.
Here now Thomas does it behoove you to consider it incredulous that the Lord is risen, since just yesterday you saw the same one raise Lazaros who already was decayed? Or must you say with the worldling “seeing is believing”. Yet how tender is the Lord in His love for you calling out to you in the odyssey of His sudden appearance the doors being closed and saying “put out your hand and place it in my side, be not faithless but believing. And the doubter, now chief theologian, in true confession saying my Lord and my God. The first amongst mortal man to call our Lord “God”.
Modern man also like Thomas struggles with this. Theoanthropos. But is it reasonable to deny Gods existence as many now do or to throw us back into the history of obscurity in the matter of God or gods as men formerly believed?
Is it reasonable man of modern science to believe an explosion or big bang set a cosmos in order governed by an inner wisdom and law which you in turn study and seek to comprehend? Can a “bang” occur without a prime mover? And what was before the “bang”? Can intelligence be hatched from a chaotic? And the principles of creation from mindless matter?
Have the primates also invented something of late or written a sentence? Have they as of yet constructed a house or a city or stacked some stones? Has the realm of Sheol also been mapped out and charted or death been averted when the clock unseen has sounded it’s tolling? Is there an explorer who has sailed a ship there and discovered this parallel world and its yawning gate wherein all mankind must in his turn traverse, the very thought of which all are haunted in their innermost self.
Has yet among the men of reason devised a shock therapy to awaken the inner man to become a new and virtuous creature, or a pill of apothecary to enlighten the fallen?
Has any name of those born of woman came close to Jesus the Christ? Has anyone spoken the words amongst philosophers or prophets “I am the resurrection and the life” or done signs and wonders that supersede the laws and tenets of nature? Has the words and deeds of Christ been of no effect in your reading of history but the words of Voltaire, Freud, Marx, and the deists been transformative? Is this reasonable?
This same Lord and Saviour who instilled such a power among the apostles; these men chosen not for their wiles, nor for their political savvy, but simple men chosen as the representatives of the founded church to forgive the sins or to retain the sins in this world and the world to come, an enormous power; yet we are remaining heedless to her commands. Embracing instead amoral lifestyles which are not reasonable and defending abortion of infants by all reasonable standards violent and sinful, and banishing prayer from the public sphere while providing for other vacuous dins.
No one save our Lord and shepherd,” the vanquisher of death” has provided the words of eternal life and the means with which to achieve this most desirable end, which is in fact only a new beginning. No one has lifted humanity to such a state as is seen in the saints of every age and century. But shall reason herself the guide of a well-formed mind close her eyes and shut her ears to realize also the fragile nature of man who cannot bring salvation but must humbly recognize our limitations and our need for Gods assistance and our utter dependency upon Him. Truly reasonable minds will not cower before this most obvious of facts, the Father who is eternal and unknowable the son who was sent into the world yet coeternal with the Father and the all Holy Spirit breathed into the apostles and presiding in the saints.
But even if you still do doubt you must know Our Lord is who He said He is and will do as He said He will do and will reveal Himself again to the world in good time and every eye shall see Him. So hear rulers of the earth and you of excellent mind.... Kiss the Son and bow low before Him, for He is good and tender of heart and He loves mankind.
And you beloved of Christ St. Thomas how blessed is your doubting which gave birth to true confession and Theology which now you enjoy in the courts of the saints who behold the risen Lord enthroned with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and ever and unto the ages of ages.