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On Faith
Sunday of Thomas

        The  joyous  days  of  the  bright  paschal  week  have  passed.

 The  Church  has  closed  the  royal  doors  of  its  altars  and  has  directed  our  mind’s  and  heart’s  gaze  towards  seeing  how  the  world  accepted  the  news  of  Christ’s  Resurrection.

 And  the  first  image  that  the  Church  offers  to  us  is  the  image  of  the  doubting  Thomas.

 The  great  and  incomprehensible  truth  of  Christ’s  Resurrection  could  not  be  grasped  by  the  mind  of  man,  and  thus  could  truly  become  for  him  a  stumbling  block  and  a  source  of  incredulity.    But  at  this  point  the  nature  of  disbelief  is  revealed  to  us.

 “Usually,”  -  says  a  Christian  philosopher,  -  “truths  of  faith  are  rejected  in  advance  not  because  of  coarseness  of  mind,  but  because  of   corruption  of  the  will.  There  is  no  heartfelt  attraction  towards  such  objects  as  God,  salvation  of  the  soul,  resurrection  of  the  body;   there  is  no  desire  to  have  such  truths  truly  exist  or,  at  the  least,  to  regard  them  seriously…   Such  disbelief,  essentially  uncertain  of  itself  and,  therefore,  more  or  less  set  against  the  objects  whose  existence  it  denies,  -  gives  itself  away  through  this  hostility,  since  one  cannot  really  be  set  against  that  which  does  not  exist  at  all,  -  such  disbelief  is  unscrupulous…”   But  the  disbelief,  or  rather  the  doubt,  of  Apostle  Thomas  was  quite  different.  He  wanted  to  believe,  he  tried  to  believe,  he  sought  confirmation  of  his  belief.


 And  Christ  the  Saviour,  Who  never  appeared  amid  offensive  and  stubborn  disbelief,  condescended  to  Thomas’  frailty  and  personally  con-firmed  His  resurrection  to  him.

 This  image  is  quite  instructional  for  all  of  us  of  course,  but  it  is  especially  relevant  to  those  who  suffer  disbelief,  who  are  tortured  by  a  weak  and  shaky  faith.

 Above  all  we  must  guard  ourselves  against  allowing  our  sinful  will  to  seek  an  outlet  for  itself  in  this  spiritual  frailty.  After  all,  it  is  much  easier  to  live  without  faith.  Faith  requires  intense  pressure,  requires  spiritual  labor,  while  disbelief  unties  one’s  hands  for  many  things.  

 Thus,  brother  Christian,  if  you  feel  that  your  faith  is  becoming  scarce,  realize  that  the  cause  of  this  lies  not  in  the  objects  of  faith,  but  in  your  own  limitations.  And  if  you  understand  this,  then  God  will  enlighten  you  as  He  had  enlightened  Apostle  Thomas,  and  will  condescend  to  you  as  He  had  condescended  to  the  latter’s  frailty.  Amen.

Hieromonk  Methodius

Sunday of Thomas
“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

The Lord said these words to His unbelieving disciple, who refused to believe in the Lord’s Resurrection when his fellow apostles told him about this resurrection. The apostles joyfully told Thomas that the Lord had arisen, but Thomas replied: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hands into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). The Lord did not tarry in providing His disciple with the confirmation he desired on the eighth day after His Resurrection. We hear a detailed description of this event in the Gospel reading for this week. Thomas wished for confirmation of the resurrection: he received an incomparably higher confirmation, besides which even the resurrection paled. “My Lord and my God!” – Thomas exclaims. Having become convinced of Thy Divinity, I no longer seek to be convinced of the resurrection. For Thee, Omnipotent God, all actions are possible, including those that surpass man’s achievements.

In response to the apostle’s confession, the Lord blessed those who have not seen, yet have believed. He thus remembered us, too, who are separated from that event by time and space. With His words the Lord united the faithful of all times and all places with the apostles. In the prayer which the Lord offered to God the Father before embarking upon His passion, He united the apostles with all true Christians: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20).

Yet why do we not have faith?

First of all, because we did not make any effort to become acquainted with Christianity, i.e. we did not listen whenever and wherever we had the opportunity to hear something theoretical about Christianity, in order to afterwards unite this theory with practice and thus acquire an effective knowledge of Christianity.

Christianity can be compared to a large and wonderful harbor, into which ships of all sizes and kinds can easily enter. Christianity embraces people of all ages, all classes and positions, all abilities and degree of education: embraces and saves. Christianity contains both true theology and genuine psychology and meta-physics. Only in Christianity can one acquire a proper understanding of man, of the visible and invisible worlds. The illumination provided by Christianity leads to a formation of the same viewpoint on human learning that is held by God. “For the wisdom of the world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor. 3:4), because this knowledge deals only with what is temporal and worldly, and leads its possessor to vanity, pride, self-deception, forgetfulness of God and eternity. When such a person begins to ponder spiritual subjects, his mind wanders around as in a valley of shadows; being unable to acquire true knowledge, he begins to make up opinions and ideas, dressing them up in artfully complex words, and deceiving both himself and others.

Even a most superficial glance at the establishment and the spread of Christianity leaves us dumbfounded. We can immediately see that Christianity is not a human establishment, but a divine establishment. The Lord became incarnate amid worldly poverty. Despite being of royal ancestry (that of the Holy Virgin Mary), He lived in absolute poverty. Setting out to preach His word, He chose for Himself twelve disciples from the same commonplace environment. The disciples were illiterate or semi-literate people. And such individuals were able to become the founders of Christianity! Of Himself the Lord said that He will die a shameful death. Of His followers He said that they would be killed, persecuted, hated by all. In terms of human reasoning the establishment of Christianity could easily appear to be a matter lacking all sense, a dream issuing from someone’s imagination and love of glory.

However, history has shown us just the opposite. Christianity spread precisely as the Lord foretold. The persecutions to which Christians were subjected in the Roman Empire were unimaginable. The Roman emperors tortured and killed more of their subjects than all of Rome’s wars. Moreover, the Roman emperors killed of their soldiers than all the state’s enemies. In the middle of the first century the population of the Roman Empire was about 100 million people. By the time of Constantine the Great (324 A.D.) it had gone down to 60 million people.

In the establishment of Christianity who cannot but acknowledge God’s will, God’s power, God’s action, surpassing all the reason and power of man? The impossible happened. The inner conviction that comes from a fulfillment of commandments is a conviction that influences the very heart of man. It is more powerful than all outside influences. The Gospel commandments calm the soul, revive and strengthen it.

“Reach hither thy hand, says the Lord to His doubting disciple, and be not faithless, but believing”; begin to act in accordance with My commandments, and you shall see My by means of an invisible spiritual feeling in your soul. Each one who touches Me in such a manner, will become sure of Me and will cry out together with My beloved disciple: My Lord and my God! Amen.

Protopriest Igor Hrebinka

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