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Homily for 4/30/06 - Thomas Sunday

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  • Archpriest David Moser
    In the Gospel of St Matthew we are told simply that after the Resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to the Apostles and they worshipped him, but some doubted. In
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2006
      In the Gospel of St Matthew we are told simply that after the
      Resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to the Apostles and they worshipped
      him, but some doubted. In the Gospel of John, the Apostle Thomas is
      named as the one who doubted. Thomas was also the disciple who earlier,
      when Jesus proposed to leave Galilee to go to Jerusalem to raise
      Lazarus, said "we might as well go with Him that we might die with
      Him." Thomas was a man who spoke his mind without reservation. And
      even though he frequently saw the "dark side" of things, still he was
      faithful to Christ.



      In saying that he doubted the report of Christ's resurrection, we cannot
      assume that it was the fact of the resurrection that he doubted, but
      rather the report of the other Apostles that they had seen the risen
      Christ. De did not doubt that Jesus was the messiah or that they would
      be saved by Him. Thomas did not doubt the fact of the Resurrection.
      Thomas doubted what the others had seen - perhaps it was an illusion, an
      hallucination. Perhaps they had fallen into some kind of delusion. He
      saw their joy, but still they were hidden in a locked room for fear of
      the Jews - there was an incongruity between their words and their
      actions. And so Thomas doubted what the others had seen. But they
      *had* seen Jesus and the confirmation for Thomas was not long in
      coming. Again Jesus came to the disciples and to Thomas and there
      showed them His hands and His side and spoke with them. From this
      moment on, Thomas had no more doubts, for he himself had seen the risen
      Christ.



      For Thomas it was not enough to settle for the reports of others - even
      when he believed that the resurrection had occurred. Thomas required
      something more, he needed to experience Jesus Christ directly. Belief
      in Christ is not about simple knowledge and blind faith - belief in
      Jesus Christ is about experiencing Him in your own soul. Thomas would
      not let things go simply at the word of others but craved that direct
      relationship. Neither do we let things go simply by believing the
      reports of others, but we too need to enter into that direct
      relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not enough to hear that He is
      Risen, but we must encounter the Risen Lord Himself. It is not enough
      to hear others tell of seeing and hearing Him, but we must see and hear
      him ourselves. It is not enough that others have touched Him - we must
      touch Him and be touched by Him ourselves. The life in Christ is not
      something to be experienced vicariously, but it is something that
      requires our direct participation.



      But how is it that we can have this direct experience, for our Lord,
      after 40 days, ascended into Heaven and then sent to us the Holy
      Spirit. How can we touch Him and be touched by Him? How can we have
      this same direct experience that was so necessary to Thomas? We can
      have this experience through the sacraments and through the liturgical
      life of the Church. When we enter the Church building, we are
      immediately confronted with the sight of the icons and lamps and the
      very architecture and design of the temple. Our ears are filled with
      the hymns of the Church. We smell the incense - even if there is not a
      censing at the moment. Just walking into the Church is a direct
      experience of Christ. But there is more. For when we hear the prayers
      our mind is engaged and the tongue speaks the words of praise and
      supplication and of worship. When we come to receive a blessing, we
      feel the touch of the hand, the oil with which we are anointed, the
      water with which we are sprinkled. When we confess our sins, we hear
      the voice of the priest as the voice of Christ telling us that our sins
      are forgiven. We feel his hand upon our head, comforting and soothing
      us. When we come to receive the Holy Mysteries, we receive the true
      Body and Blood of Christ so that He not only abides with us, but He
      comes and dwells within us. He becomes an inseparable part of us. We
      touch Him and He touches us.



      The Resurrection, the life in Christ, the relationship with the God/man
      Jesus Christ is something that is not acquired simply by hearing a
      report and believing it to be true - it is a direct and life changing
      experience where we encounter God Himself face to face. We reach out to
      touch Him, in body and in soul and He comes and touches us - uniting
      Himself to us, changing us, living with and within us. This is the
      Christian life - to touch God and to be touched by Him. We directly
      experience the risen Lord Jesus Christ and through this experience we
      begin to be united to Him, to be filled with His grace, to be
      transformed into His image and likeness.



      Thomas sought to touch Christ, to put his fingers in the print of the
      nails and his hand in the side so that he might believe and experience
      Christ. And Jesus Christ heard his prayer and came to Him. We too seek
      to touch Jesus Christ and to be touched by Him, so that we might be
      filled with His grace, transformed by Him, and united with Him. And so
      He comes to us that we might reach out and touch Him, that we might hear
      His voice, that we might feel his hand, that we might take Him into
      ourselves and be united with Him. Christianity is the direct experience
      of God and by that experience we are touched, we are healed, we are
      transformed and we are united with Him, filled with His grace and His life.

      --
      V. Rev. David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Boise, ID
      email: moserd@...
      homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      ask Fr David: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/frd_private/




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