Commemorated the Sunday after the Resurrection [Pascha]
After His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to His Disciples: He miraculously entered a locked room, and showed them His wounds. Then He ate and drank with them, proving that He was not a ghost or a phantom, but that He was really Jesus the Christ, in the flesh.
St. Thomas was not with the rest of the Disciples in the room. When he returned, the others excitedly told him that Jesus had visited them. Thomas doubted their story - the bodily resurrection of Christ.
So the Lord appeared again, and invited Thomas to put his fingers in His side and touch the wounds made by the nails. Thomas did, and after seeing (and feeling) for himself, he finally believed. He cried out: "My Lord and my God!" and fell at Christ's feet. Christ told Thomas that He was glad that Thomas no longer doubted, but also lamented: "Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believed!"
Christ uses Thomas' doubt to teach both the Disciples and us that we don't need to physically touch Him to have faith. But upon hearing of Christ, we can be spiritually moved by His presence to follow Him, and trust in His promise that all men will be raised on the day He appoints for judgment, and know either the eternal joy of being reunited with God or the torment of being without Him.
St. Peter heard and understood, as he writes to his flock (I Peter 1:8): "You did not see Him, yet you loved Him; and still without seeing Him you are filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls."
It is the custom in some Orthodox parishes to travel to the cemetery on this day to pray, light candles, and to sing "Christ is Risen!" to deceased family members. If your parish does this, make sure to take your children even if you don't have any family members buried there. They need to learn that we Orthodox pray for the dead. If your parish does not so this, you and your family can go on your own, say a prayer for the dead listed in most prayer books, and sing "Christ is Risen!" Be sure to take and light candles at each grave you visit.
© 1999 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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