Today is Thomas Sunday. You will remember how on Easter Sunday evening, the Apostles were sort of in hiding in an upper room, probably the same one they had the Last Supper in a few days before. The doors were shut and locked. And Jesus came in without opening the doors and appeared to the Apostles. That is why they thought maybe He was a ghost. Jesus was not a ghost, or spirit; He was there in body. He ate something in front of them, in order to prove that He was not a ghost or spirit, but physically resurrected from the dead. Thomas came later, after the Lord had left. He found it difficult to believe it, and he wanted tangible proof that the Lord had risen from the dead.
That opportunity came the next Sunday, like today. As we heard in the Gospel reading, the Lord entered once again through the closed doors, and told Thomas to touch the scars on His hands and side, to confirm for himself that He was risen.
So, Jesus rose from the dead, physically. That is, His soul returned from Hades, after demolishing it, reentered His body, and He rose from the sepulcher, and there was no need for the stone to be removed for Him to exit. Now resurrected, His divine attributes are no longer hidden or suppressed. He demonstrated super-human abilities, like walking through doors, appearing in other forms, and other things. And yet, He ate with His Disciples. He did not need to eat in order to live, like we do now. He ate in order to prove that He is fully human as well as fully divine. The food He ate was completely consumed by the fire of His divinity. He had no need to go to the bathroom. All those baser functions were inoperative after the resurrection.
This resurrected physical state of the Lord is a preview of what lies in store for human beings after the general resurrection at the end of time. We will also have resurrected bodies that will be bright and spiritual, or not, to the extent that each individual has prepared themselves in this life.
The Lord purposely kept the marks on His body that were made by the nails and the spear. That does not mean that our wounds, physical and spiritual, will not be healed. The Lord purposely kept His scars as a kind of badge of His love for us and also to prove that it was He.
So, Thomas touches the Lord’s scars. His fingers were not burned off from touching the body of God, but rather his mind and soul were illumined, and he believed and proclaimed that the man he was touching was also his Lord and God.
This Sunday is sometimes called Anti-pascha, which means Sunday after Pascha. It is also called the rededication of the resurrection of Christ, which means a re-celebration of the resurrection. This re-celebration will happen each and every Sunday until we get to Palm Sunday next year.
Today is also known as the second Sunday of Pascha, the first one being Easter Sunday itself.
Today also marks the beginning of the eight-week cycle of the eight modes of our Church’s hymnography. This cycle will continue until the end of Lent next year.
And finally, this past week was Bright week and there was no fasting at all. As of this week, we resume our regular fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays.