(John 20: 19-31)
John the Evangelist presents to us today two very powerful encounters with the Lord that His disciples had after His Resurrection. The first appearance of Christ was in the evening, on the very day He had risen. Only ten disciples were present, with Thomas being absent. When he returned, the ten disciples said to him with joy: “We have seen the Lord with our eyes,” and described Him with details of what they saw. But Thomas did not believe any of it. His attitude was this: You saw Him; I did not see Him; If I see Him and I put my hand on the nail marks and spear, then I will believe. Thomas wanted solid proof!
If one thinks with cold logic, they can criticize Thomas for his behavior. Ten people, his co-disciples, assured him that they saw Jesus alive, they spoke with Him, and yet he still doubted! But these same Disciples of Christ, before seeing Him also did not believe that He had risen! In the morning, the myrrh-bearing women had gone and they told the disciples that they saw Christ alive and spoke with Him. But “their words seemed to them like idle tales and did not believe them” (Luke 24:11). When that very night Christ appeared among the ten disciple alive, then they believed.
All this reveals that the Holy Apostles were not simple-minded, as the adversaries of the Holy Gospels want to present them. That is, what they wrote was not what actually happened, but the delusions of ignorant fishermen! What we see is the opposite. They examined everything with great attention. The Holy Apostles who preached throughout the world, had the certainty that they had personally experienced the truth. This truth was ratified by their imprisonment, exile and even with their martyrdom. When the Jews threatened the Apostles with death during their council if they did not cease to speak of Christ, the Apostles with courage replied: “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). The words that the Apostle John begins with his 1st Letter: Jesus Christ, “we have heard Him and we have looked at Him-with our own eyes- and our hands have handled” (1:1); “That which we have seen and heard we declared to you” (1:3).
So we Christians are sure that what is written in the Holy Gospels and what our Church teaches is all true. That is why the actions of atheists and heretics against Christ and His teachings do not shake our Orthodox faith.
In the case of Thomas, we can see that Jesus faced the disbelief of His disciples. He did not reward him, but he kindly wanted to show His Apostle that He had indeed resurrected. That is why, eight days after His Resurrection, like today, He appeared again to His disciples when Thomas was with them. “Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace to you” (John 20:26). Immediately afterwards, Jesus turns to Thomas and invites him to come and examine Him, using exactly the same words that Thomas had said the week before. So Jesus says to Thomas: “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” (27). After that, Thomas was shocked and confessed with firm belief: “My Lord and my God” (28). This faith was proclaimed by Thomas for the rest of his years, everywhere, until he was martyred in India. So the Lord with His wisdom helped Thomas to believe in Him, and to fully declare to others Christ as the Lord, God and Savior of all the world!
My dear brothers and sisters, together with Thomas, let us also dispel all our doubts and unbelief about what Christ revealed to us through His Apostles and His Holy Church. Let us confess with words and works the Risen Jesus as our Lord and God. Let us radiate to all people around us, the joy and peace that Christ has given us with His Resurrection.