April 23, 2023

Homily One for the Sunday of Thomas or Antipascha (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 13, 1945)

Not immediately and with great difficulty did all the holy apostles believe that their Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, had risen from the dead. Even for them, who had seen more than once how He raised the dead, it was not easy to believe that a dead man, immovable and lifeless, in whom there is neither thought nor feelings, can resurrect Himself. This is much more incomprehensible than the great miracle of the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus (see Mark 5:40–43) or the son of the widow of Nain (see Luke 7:11–15). Later, the holy Apostle Thomas believed in this. It was so difficult for him to fit into his consciousness the amazing fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus that he categorically declared: “I will not believe until I put my fingers into the wounds from the nails and my hand into the wound on His side” (see Jn. 20:25).

And so the Lord Jesus Christ came to His disciples and gave them peace. Turning to Thomas, He said: "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27). With fear and trembling, Saint Thomas put his fingers into the wounds of Christ and with a great upsurge of faith exclaimed: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). And heard the answer: "You believe because you saw Me. Blessed are those who have not seen and believed" (John 20:29). Can these words of Christ be considered a reproach to Saint Thomas? Did the Lord condemn his unbelief? No, not at all condemned. He knew his heart, knew that it was difficult for him to believe, and therefore He let him touch His wounds.

Why was it so hard for Saint Thomas to believe — more difficult than for the other disciples? To understand this, you need to think about how people generally relate to rumors, to everything new and unexpected. People who are gullible, without reasoning and criticism, perceive every rumor and easily believe everything. Serious and thoughtful people investigate everything, consider and accept as truth only that which withstands criticism. There are also those who do not believe at all, who do not want to believe if something is not to their liking, who willingly accept only what corresponds to their own desires, thoughts, moods, and stubbornly do not accept what is inconsistent with their ideas, contrary to their spiritual properties. Evil people do not want to believe anything good. Many did not believe in Christ and His Resurrection precisely for this reason: they did not need this Resurrection, it prevented them from living with their mind, their self-love. And therefore they rejected faith in Christ and the whole holy gospel. And the third category of incredulous people are skeptics who doubt everything.

To which of these three types of people did Saint Thomas belong? Of course, not to the last two, not to those who do not accept anything sacred. He belonged to the number of profound and unbelieving people who wanted to make sure of everything completely and accurately. Is this a negative quality of the soul? Not at all. And the Lord Jesus Christ did not blame Saint Thomas, but only, taking into account the fact that it was difficult for him to believe because his mind was critical, gave him the opportunity to verify His Resurrection through touch.

Who are those who have not seen and believed (John 20:29), whom the Lord blesses? This is that innumerable multitude of Christians who lived and now live by the power of the Resurrection of Christ, who believed in the Lord Jesus with all their hearts without seeing Him. Is it easy for us, not having seen the Lord Jesus Christ, to believe in Him? Much easier than it was for the apostles, because from the time of the Resurrection, His message of the holy gospel conquered the whole world, quenched the evil fire of paganism and enlightened the pagan darkness. The light of Christ has shone over the world. And we know by faith that the Lord lives and abides with His Father, and dwells in every pure heart that loves Him, and now He is among us, in the temple, and heeds our prayers.

But our faith is much weaker than the apostolic faith, although there is no doubt for us that Christ has risen; at the same time, it requires constant strengthening and inflammation. How can we strengthen our faith? How can we warm it up? By the fact that, like the Apostle Thomas, we touch the wounds of Christ. After all, although we cannot put our fingers into them, we can mentally reach towards these wounds and strengthen our faith with spiritual touch.

Let us look with fear at the bloodied hands of the Lord. After all, these are the hands that healed the blind with their touch (see Matt. 12:22; Mark 10:46–52; Luke 18:35–42), raised up the paralyzed (see Matt. 8:6–13, 4:24; Mark 2:3-5, 10-12). These fingers were put into the ears of a deaf and tongue-tied man and healed him (see Mark 7:32-35). These palms touched the bed of the deceased son of the widow of Nain - and death fled, and the spirit of life entered the dead man (see Luke 7:11-15). These arms have been opened to receive all of us prodigal sons! These hands were stretched out on the Cross to deliver us all from eternal damnation and death. It is they who hold the whole universe by their strength, govern the life of the whole world and from above bless the whole earth. And these hands are pierced with nails. How can our hearts not shudder at the thought of the most terrible atrocity, which cannot be compared even with all the atrocities ever committed by people! Let us fall down before the hands of Christ, and mentally kiss them.

Let's look at the feet of Christ. They were nailed down. For what? For the fact that the Lord walked throughout all Palestine, announcing the Kingdom of God, calling for repentance, preaching His holy gospel to the world. This message aroused the devilish malice of the scribes, Pharisees and high priests, for by His teaching and formidable denunciations the Lord destroyed their authority in the eyes of the Jewish people - a false, undeserved authority. And, inflamed with hatred, they decided to nail His feet so that they would never walk again. Should we not, in fear and trembling, fall at the feet of Christ, as the harlot sinner fell at them, washing them with her tears and wiping them with her hair and receiving the remission of sins (see Luke 7:37–48)? She not only received forgiveness of sins, but, as Saint John Chrysostom says, became a virgin again. Has anything like this ever happened in the world? And that was a fact. The harlot not only became a virgin, but also a sister of Christ. If such is the power of worshiping the feet of Christ, then how can we, burdened with sins no less than this harlot, not fall before the holy wounds of the feet of the Lord, wash them with tears of repentance and ask with all our hearts for the forgiveness of sins, because for us, for our sins, was the Lord nailed to the Cross?

Let us turn our mental gaze to the terrible wound on Christ's side, the wound from the spear with which His heart was pierced. Water and Blood flowed from it (see John 19:34), washing away the sins of the whole world - that Blood that is now given to us in the Mystery of Communion. Come to the open heart of Christ. It is full of boundless Divine love, embracing the whole world, covering everything and purifying everything. Let us remember the words of the Lord spoken in the temple of Jerusalem on the day of Mid-Pentecost: "Whoever is thirsty, come to me and drink" (John 7:37). Let us be saturated with the love of Christ, which poured out from His heart in an endless stream.

There were great people who had all their thoughts all the days of their lives focused on the Cross of Christ. Who, with constant ardent love, think of the Cross of Christ? Only the one who is like the apostle Paul can say: "For to me, to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). Many saints could utter such words: Saints Seraphim of Sarov, Dimitri of Rostov, Pitirim of Tambov, and many others. They all lived by the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

In ancient times, the gospel commandments, the preaching of Jesus lived in the hearts of people and guided their lives, the light of Christ enlightened the entire universe, and many nations were imbued with deep piety. Great and fiery was piety then in Rus'. In everything and always, in all matters: state, public, and personal, people were guided by the spirit of Christianity. For all their labors they invoked the blessing of Christ.

With the name of Christ on their lips, they defeated terrible enemies, just as the noble Prince Dimitry Donskoy defeated the hordes of Mamai. People imbibed love for Christ and faith in Him like mother's milk. The literature and art of those times were imbued with the spirit of Christ. Both artists and writers sacrificed great talents to the Lord Jesus and glorified Him with their word and brush. Everything was covered with the spirit of Christian piety. The people knew how many martyrs shed blood for the Lord Jesus Christ, and they understood that it was only possible to shed blood in this way for the holy Truth, and they believed in this Truth. People saw many saints shining in the darkness of the world, like the stars of heaven, and bowed before the radiance of their souls. The Russian people went in huge crowds to venerate the saints in the Kiev Caves Lavra, bringing love there and bowing their hearts, and to the saints of God who rested there, they drew strength in their faith.

Let us turn to the people among whom we live and ask: “What do you live for?” The scientist will answer: "I live by science." And we will object with embarrassment: “Only? For you, only the knowledge of nature is important, but the Lord Jesus Christ is nothing to you? And do you never remember the wounds of Christ?” "I'm too busy to think about it." Politicians will say: "We live to transform human life, to carry out reforms that will make it happier." And we will lament: “Yes, this is a worthy task, but don’t you know that the Lord Jesus Christ, much earlier than you, has already solved this problem in a way that none of you can solve. He pointed out the only way for life to be full of light.” But they, of course, will not agree with us and will continue to do their job. A simple person will say: "My life is in caring for the family, for daily bread, for clothes." "Man will not live by bread alone (Matt. 4:4, Luke 4:4) and God knows about all your needs, so if you serve Him with all your heart, then you won’t have to worry about tomorrow?”

Let us turn to the dark, gloomy nooks and crannies of life and ask those people who drag out a miserable existence there: “What do you live for?” And some will answer: "My life is in vodka and tobacco", others: "My life is in theft and murder." Such is the gloom and darkness in which these unfortunates live.

So, as time went on, more and more people appeared who tried with all their might to extinguish the light of Christ, more and more unbelief developed among the nations. Fierce, false criticism of the Gospel appeared, supposedly scientific theories arose that, at first glance, completely refute faith in God. Now it is becoming more and more difficult to acquire faith in Christ. But should we be discouraged, ashamed? Shall we follow the crowd of atheists? After all, people extremely easily follow the majority and perceive what it believes and teaches. Few people already fast on the holy days of Holy Week, even on Great Friday, thinking that on this day the Lord was nailed to the Cross! How few are those who remember Christ, and how many are those about whom Saint Paul's terrible words were addressed: "If he who rejects the law of Moses, in front of two or three witnesses, without mercy, is punished by death, then how severe the punishment, you think, will be the one guilty of who trampling on the Son of God and does not regard as holy the Blood of the Covenant, with which he was sanctified, and offends the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:28–29).

How many of our people have trampled on Christ, neglected the Blood of Christ, even abused this Blood! Will any of us hear such a condemnation at the Last Judgment? Will any of us die an eternal death because he trampled the Son of God, because he did not think about the Cross of Christ, did not worship him? Let it not be! May we turn with all our hearts to the wound of the heart of Christ, may we receive holy love from this eternal source! He loves all who seek Him; He gives His grace to all who remember His Cross and kiss it spiritually. "Whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and appear to him Myself" (John 14:21). He will appear to those who, with ardent love, always fall before His wounds and in spiritual ecstasy along with Saint Thomas exclaim: "My Lord and my God!" And those who delve deeply into the holy Gospel, whose hearts are illuminated by the grace of God, cleansed by long prayers and fasting, will keep their holy faith until the end of the world, for the Lord said that even the gates of hades will not prevail against His Holy Church (see Matt. 16:18).

Let the words of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen us: "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1). We will always remember them! May our hearts not be troubled by anti-religious propaganda and the fact that the majority of the people have forgotten Christ. Let us follow Christ, let us believe in Him, never allowing doubt. And then the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will dwell in us with His Father and will create His abode in us (see John 14:23). Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *