St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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/ Weekly Message / Weekly Message 04-26-09: Sunday Of Saint Thomas
Saint Thomas Sunday

St. Thomas Sunday

The three hottest words in our language are "Christ Is Risen! This is the essence of the angelic message to the women at the empty tomb of the Lord. Jesus is no longer there because He is risen and lives forever.

Surely those three days while Jesus lay in the tomb were filled with darkness. Jesus died and along with him seemed to go the dreams and hopes of so many. The women who came to anoint his body surely believed that the story was over. Perhaps a few of his followers remembered his words, "Three days later I will rise" Mark 10: 34. But most seemed to have missed it somehow. When Jesus arrives some hours later among his followers in the locked upper room, they are astounded and filled with joy. Can you picture it? We serve a Saviour who not only died for us but rose for us! Because He lives, we too, will live forever. Today we are asked to join the company of Thomas. We are inspired to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

Finally some time later, the absent disciple, Thomas is among the no-longer forlorn followers. And when the Lord invites him to convince himself by touching his wounds and placing his fingers in his side, the twin is inspired to proclaim. "My Lord and my God!" This is far more than he could ever have imagined It is true as the woman earlier proclaimed "My Redeemer lives!"

How this entire scenario reminds us of an early encounter with the Lord of the blessed Peter, after confessing Christ to be the Son of God. The Lord's words can also apply to the "doubting" Thomas today, "Blessed are you ... No mere man has revealed this to you but my father in heaven" Matthew 14: 16, 17.

Such irrepressible joy comes only from a heart and soul inspired with astounding truth. It is the answer made plain by heaven's joy in celebrating with us. And just like the women and the disciples who came earlier to the tomb and found it empty, and ran away to spread the unbelievable news, we leave behind the empty tomb, the unresolved questions of all souls in our daily living, the absence of reality in so many instances in what it is we encounter in our lives, and we embrace the inspiration of the Holy Trinity provided by the Resurrection of our God from the limiting and confining dead.

All the aspirations of Job in his abject suffering in the Old Covenant are now made plain. The prayers requested by Judas Macabee for prayers for the repose of the just departed souls are now fulfilled. David's eagerness for never-ending life is answered. All the eagerness of Job as he was dying, `If a man dies, will he live again" Job 14: 14? are finally resolved in the questioning mind.

Thomas is inspired by heaven's insight and wisdom from the eternal Godhead descends and finds its place in a tomb outside Jerusalem and gives witness to heavenly reality. How blessed and fortunate is the man who knows Christ as Creator, Saviour and Redeemer! What Christ has achieved is now an integral parcel of baptized man's reality.

The words of St. Thomas are a prefiguring wisdom that inspires all the disciples after the Lord returns to the eternal Father, to enter the world and spread the truth of unfathomable Resurrection joy. It is Resurrection truth that inspired the first believers to respond to the words of Peter at the Pentecost feast. We do not know exactly what happened when Jesus left the tomb in which He was buried, but we do know that the truth of the Resurrection inspired and strengthened the resolve of the disciples and enhanced their entry and purpose into the world for the salvation of mankind. The strength of inspiration received at the empty tomb brought the disciples to the Descent of the Holy Spirit and so armed them that they heroically preached gospel truth to overthrow the influence of satan and separate man from hell's dominion.

Inspired by the message of the holy women, confirmed by St, Thomas today, the disciples are eager to share salvation truth and shout to each other and speak to the world seriously about the obvious implication of empty grave clothes in the cave-tomb.

We are not very good believers, we human beings, but the reality which we witness in our spiritual pilgrimage away from the tomb is captivating and overwhelming. As with St. Thomas, it does make believers out of us.

The Resurrection means the limitations of space and time are abolished. The risen Christ breaks down historical and cultural barriers and ultimately the barrier of death itself. What an inspiration to genuinely live without fear because we belong to the Saviour, wholly, totally and completely and share the fruitful results of his victory over the grave and all its limitations.

For man death generally means a severing of relationships, however dear they are to us. But now in the case of Jesus, we find his death has exactly the opposite effect on account of the Resurrection. As it restores him to fellowship with those whom He loves, Thomas being a good example. It opens up the possibility of fellowship with those - us -whom He, so to speak, has not known in the same way.

We are thus inspired to hope and the disposition of hope is rooted in the fundamental revealed truth that all possibilities for life and its future are under the care and goodness of our heavenly Father. St. Paul's words to the Roman faithful are an overwhelming inspiration and enlightenment for us, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" Romans 5: 10, 11.

This feast is the ultimate reason for hope; it is the inspiration for living an upright life; it is the meaning of undefeatable joy because our amazing grace is now realized and its richness cannot be reversed.

Not longer does the silly baseless insight of the world's logic cause confusion: The logic of self-preservation joins in asserting and advancing eternal reality. God either exists or not, and we must of necessity lay odds for or against him. If I wager for him, and He does not exist, there is no loss. If I wager for him and He exists, there is infinite gain. If I wager against him and he does not exist, there is neither loss nor gain, But if I wager against him and He in fact exists as the Resurrection proves, there is infinite loss. This is the single hypothesis where I am exposed to the loss of everything, including my own personal life. God's wisdom in Resurrection reality inspires us, instructs us, affirms us to make the wager which ensures us winning all, or at worse, losing nothing. St. Thomas enters the consequential wager and inspires us to follow him with the worshipping words, "My Lord and my God!" which we express over and again by singing almost incessantly, "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!"

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