Redeeming the Time
An Orthodox Christian
Journal
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page St Nicholas the Wonderworker Go to the bottom of the page
Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Redeeming the Time
April 24/May 7 2000
Vol. 04.01


See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.


PRINTABLE Version



NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS 3

A NOTE ABOUT PRAYER DURING THE PENTECOSTARION PERIOD

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPEARANCES OF THE RISEN CHRIST

QUESTIONS ABOUT ST THOMAS SUNDAY

THOUGHTS ON THE SUNDAY OF ST THOMAS

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT APPEARANCES

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THOMAS SUNDAY

GLEANINGS FROM THE FATHERS

THE PERSONAL MEANING OF THE RESURRECTION

News and Announcements

A Note about Prayer during the Pentecostarion period


The prayer to the Holy Spirit, "O Heavenly King", said in almost every Orthodox prayer service is NOT said from Paschal matins (the first service of the Pentecostarion), which begins at midnight on the Sunday of Pascha, until the Vespers service for Pentecost. Anywhere this prayer occurs it is omitted, and until Ascension Thursday, is substituted with the Paschal troparion (Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life), sung three times. We are like the Apostles during this period, "waiting" for the Holy Spirit to come, and the absence of this prayer makes a strong statement of our profound need for the Holy Spirit.
Also, during this time, we do not normally do prostrations, unless our spiritual father instructs us to do them for some reason. In any case, no prostrations are done in the church until the day of Pentecost.

Questions about the Appearances of the Risen Christ

QUESTION 1
The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection are recounted in a series of ___ gospels that are read serially in the Sunday matins services. Each one of these readings also has a matching set of 2 hymns that are sung at the end of matins after ________ and ____________. These hymns are called the __________ with its matching ___________ and the ________________.

QUESTION 2
How many appearances of Jesus to all or most of the apostles are recorded? Describe each visit briefly.

QUESTION 3
Which apostle saw the risen Jesus first? Who appears to have believed in the resurrection first?

QUESTION 4
Who appears to have seen the resurrected Lord first? Who actually saw the risen Lord first?

QUESTION 5
Which two disciples saw Jesus while walking in the country? Where is this story found? This is easy if you know who the two disciples are! Tell the story briefly. How many times do you hear this story in church (approximately)?

QUESTION 6
How were angels involved on the day of the resurrection? How many angels were involved in announcing the resurrection?

QUESTION 7
Who saw the risen Lord "as one out of due time"?

QUESTION 8
Describe the first appearance to the 11. Since the recounting of the events of Christ is more that just history, but is a sacred record full of deep and inner meaning, try to discuss aspects of this visit from more that just a strictly historical view. Are there any truths that can be gleaned here?

QUESTION 9
Describe the appearance of the risen Christ to most of the apostles, when they were plying their trade. In what gospel is this story found? Contrast certain aspects of this appearance with a similar incident that had occurred 3 years before. Don't forget to discuss an important discussion that occurred at this time.

QUESTION 10
Give a summarized Chronology of the first day of the resurrection.

Questions about St Thomas Sunday

QUESTION 1
When is the Sunday of St. Thomas? Why? On the Sunday of St. Thomas, two hymns normally sung in Sunday matins are not sung. What are these hymns? Why are they not sung?

QUESTION 2
A Hymn normally sung once in Sunday matins is sung three times, in the matins for St. Thomas Sunday, and until when? What is the hymn?

QUESTION 3
How many days after the resurrection were required for Thomas to believe? Why did he not originally believe?

QUESTION 4
How does the Holy Spirit, through the services characterize Thomas' unbelief?

QUESTION 5
What strident words did the Holy Apostle Thomas say, which were quite similar to the Holy Apostle Peter's just before the Passion Week of our Savior? Were these words shown to be sincere?

QUESTION 6
"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst ... Then saith he to Thomas ... and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." (John 20:26-27 (parts), 20:28)

What is the theological meaning of St. Thomas' expression of worship?

QUESTION 7
How many times had the apostles as a group seen the risen Lord before St. Thomas saw Him and believed?

QUESTION 8
What important priestly charism was given by Christ when He came to the upper room the first time He saw the apostles?

QUESTION 9
What far away land did St. Thomas spread the Gospel to, where he met his end as a martyr?

QUESTION 10
What is unique about how the church reads the story of the doubting of Thomas?

Thoughts on the Sunday of St Thomas

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Christ is risen!

Today is the second Sunday of Pascha already. It is the Sunday of St. Thomas. Today we read about, as the church calls it, St. Thomas' "believing unbelief."1 There is a theme here that the church is going to be talking about now in the light of the resurrection during the whole Pentecostarion period: the enlightenment of man. The resurrection is being applied now. We see it in the Acts that we're reading for quite some time now. In the light of the resurrection, we see what's happening. We see how many people were healed, how many people were converted, and how lives were changed. Even the shadow of the apostles healed people of their infirmities.2 In the light of the resurrection, there was activity, there was motion, and there was enlightenment.

St Thomas, no different than you or I, had to be enlightened also. Everyone has different levels of understanding on various things, even among the apostles, even among the saints. It is fascinating to look and see how our Lord in the forty days that He spent on the earth enlightened so many using different ways to enlighten them, and also throughout the whole of the gospels how He reached people where they needed to be reached. The final destination is always the same: to follow the commandments and to become purified, so that we can know Christ in an intimate way. But sometimes Christ teaches certain people a little bit different. In fact, everyone is treated a little bit different.

Thomas wasn't there the first night of Pascha.3 He had just left probably on some errand, and that is when Christ came, the doors being shut. And Jesus spoke to the eleven, or actually, ten4 at that point, and they were glad. I have always marveled how in the scriptures great, momentous occasions are stated so laconically. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord."5 Indeed, they were glad, when they saw the God-man! But Thomas was not there, and the resurrection was such an incredible thing; he cannot really be faulted for not believing.

Peter didn't believe when he saw the grave clothes, only John did, when they went into the grave and saw the clothes lying folded up.6 John saw and believed, but Peter didn't. He went away, wondering in himself what had come to pass.7 Mary Magdalene, who saw the stone rolled away from the tomb together with the Theotokos, didn't immediately believe in the resurrection. She came back to the tomb with myrrh and aloes to anoint the Lord, He Who in her mind was dead. She was weeping because He wasn't in the tomb.8 She was weeping for someone Who was dead. That's why we sing, "Do not weep for one who is dead," it says (in a paraphrasement). "He is not dead, He is not here, He is alive and risen." In our exapostilarion we speak of this quite a bit, of how Mary misunderstood. And our Lord came to her and she thought He was the gardener, till He spoke to her and just in the hearing of His voice, when He said, "Mary", then she recognized Him.9

Other disciples spent an entire perhaps half a day with Christ, and didn't understand. They were Luke and Cleopas on the way to Emmaus.10 The tomb had already been empty for some time, and they were walking a long distance. It says in the scriptures 60 furlongs, quite a long distance, a day's journey, in the hot sun, and our Lord drew alongside them, and He spoke to them, and they didn't understand Who He was. They thought that He was a misinformed stranger, because He made like He wondered what the events were in the past couple days. But their hearts burned within them. Something about this Man captivated them, when He spoke to them about the scriptures, and opened their understanding. That's why it says: "And then opened He their understanding of the scriptures" And when they sat down, and when He broke bread, (which was of course, the Body and Blood of Christ), then they saw Him, and He vanished. And as they were making their way back in the wee hours of the morning, another day's journey, (they took two days' journey in one day), Christ was appearing to the other apostles, save Thomas.

You see how He enlightened people where they needed to be enlightened. Luke and Cleopas must have needed this conversation with the Lord, and to see Him in the breaking of the bread, to really have the point brought home that yes, the Lord had risen. Mary had to be spoken with by Lord. She had to see Him. John believed just by seeing the empty tomb. Peter was met by the Lord, the church understands.11 Peter was met individually by the Lord, because after all, he was a bit shaken, wasn't he? Peter was a man of great bravery. He can't be faulted for his denying Christ three times. We would have done it a thousand times. But he was very shaken because of this, and because of his emotional turmoil he was in, it was very difficult for him to believe in the resurrection, because he was all wrapped up with his feeling so completely unworthy of what the Lord had called him to do. So the Lord had to meet with Peter individually, apart from the other apostles. And in fact, Peter was the first of the apostles to see the risen Lord. And I suppose maybe the second to believe after John, who without seeing believed.

And now the last to find out, after eight long days of hearing from the apostles about the Lord being risen, Thomas, is in the room and the Lord comes, through the doors again, which were shut, passing through the doors, because after all, His body is a human body, but it is a transfigured human body. It's not subject to the same kind of laws that we are subject to. It doesn't get tired, it doesn't get sick. And that's the way we will be as well. The way Christ was in His transfigured body is a prophecy for us of how our bodies will be as well.

Jesus comes in and speaks very gently to Thomas. He says, "Alright, I know what you need. You need to touch Me. Feel the prints of the nails in my hands. Feel the slit in my side, and be not faithless, but believing."12 And then Thomas has the privilege of being the first of the apostles to proclaim unambiguously, in clear terms, the dual nature of Christ's humanity and His divinity. It is the first confession of faith in the scriptures, where Christ is proclaimed God and man openly. He says, "My Lord and my God!"13 Thomas had to wait awhile, but God gave him that great privilege of almost, shall we say, beginning the symbol of faith14. What a great privilege it was.

In the coming week we will be speaking about the myrrh-bearing women15, and there is a theme throughout the story of the myrrh-bearing women of their continuing enlightenment, just like for Thomas or for Peter or for Luke and Cleopas or for the other apostles. And then we go onto the blind man and the lame man, the paralytic. We see how the resurrection is applied. Why does the church do this? Why do we speak of things that have to do with enlightenment and healing right after Pascha? Well, because the resurrection applies to us in our life now. It's very important to understand this. That's why I have been speaking of it so often. It's very important to understand, because you must know that God has given you the ability to be able to get rid of your sins, of your passions, of the problems in your life that are making you to be away from God. You have the ability, through the resurrection. And all these examples of people that partially believed, even the great apostles, who were at times disbelievers, at times were cowards, at times were at odds with each other and vied amongst themselves who would be greatest, and all the other things -- even them -- the Lord purified them, and brought them to a great wholeness.

If He can do it with them and do it with all the others examples in the scriptures, with the paralytic and the blind man and the woman at the well, named Photini16, and all the others, then He can do it with us. I tell you, the resurrection is not something that you believe in as an event that occurred in the past. Nor is it something that you believe, and say that it will happen in the future, like Mary and Martha did, saying, "Oh Lord, I believe in the resurrection. In the last day, all will be resurrected."17 When their brother Lazarus lay dead, and Christ showed them, "I am the resurrection. If I live in you, then you are resurrected now, not later." It is very important to understand this.

A Christian who understands that Christ's becoming man makes him able to do holy things will not fall prey to despondency. Despondency is really the negation of belief in God, you know. Despondency is a type of atheism. You should fear despondency and confess it every time. It is a terrible sin, because in it, you are rejecting the resurrection. God can save you, and God will save you if you live the Christian life. Yes, indeed, you must consider yourself unworthy of salvation, but you must also know that Christ has promised it.

So live as a Christian, fast as a Christian, think as a Christian, and when you cannot do things properly, when you do things that are sinful, run to confession with the sure hope the sure knowledge, that God will receive your repentance, because of the resurrection. I tell you if you live in the light of the resurrection, you will not become despondent. As a pastor I believe that the number one sin I see is despondency. Sometimes it is cloaked, so that people can have a sin and may be despondent about it, but not so noticeably despondent, so that it is a sort of semi-excuse.

And sometimes it is because people really desire to change, and they just can't believe that they can really change. Mary and Martha couldn't believe that their brother would be resurrected after four days. The apostles, many of them, could not believe that our Lord, Who spoke of the resurrection over and over and over again, could be resurrected. It took many proofs for some of them, such as Thomas, and the other ones as well. You know, it says "Many things the Lord did, many signs He did, but not everything is written in this book."18 By the way, as an aside, you realize that the Lord taught the apostles so much that is not written down, that is part of our holy tradition now. The apostles transmitted it to their disciples, and so on. It wasn't written down, but it was precious, and St. John only in a dark way refers to it.

So today we see an example of a man, Thomas, enlightened. Christ went out of His way to enlighten him. He sort of accorded him special treatment, as it were. And Thomas believed, and he confessed. Christ did and does the same thing for us, to bring us to enlightenment. And now we must believe and confess.

Now He said something else that's very important, important not to pass over. He said, before Thomas didn't see this, but our Lord said it many other times when Thomas heard. He said, "As the Father hath sent me, so send I you."19 And by extension, it is the same for us. No, we don't have the role of the apostles. We are not bishops, and we don't have the grace that has been bestowed upon the apostles, but we are sent along basically the same path: the path of obedience to the same gospel, the path of obedience to the commandments of our God, the life in the church, and everything that living as an Orthodox Christian entails. Later on, just after this reading in fact, the disciples, seven of them, are fishing, and the Lord tells them to let down their nets, and they had a catch, and then Peter is told to bring the catch to the shore, a hundred and fifty and three fishes, and yet the net did not break.20 And later, after they ate, our Lord restored Peter by asking him three times, "Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me?" and then He showed him how he would die.21 This is tied in with when He was saying, "As my Father hath sent Me, so send I you."

We must use Christ as the example of how to live, whether as an apostle or whether as anyone else. The Christian life is one of difficulty and one of strife. We are in the light of the resurrection, but we can never get far away from knowing that our life is a difficult one. We make it so because of our sins, sometimes, and other times because of the evil of the world surrounding us. Follow the example of the saints. Follow the example of the apostles. Live as they lived, which means you live the life in the church.

And brothers and sisters, always believe that the resurrection applies to you, now. Fear disbelief in it. Every time you fall into despondency, berate yourself for being a fool and gazing into an empty tomb, and wondering where the Lord is. Don't be like this. Believe in the resurrection, and believe that you can be changed, and through struggle, arduous struggle, through many tears, through ups and downs, and even in the midst of your sins, God will perfect you, but you must believe. Amen.

Answers to Questions about Appearances

ANSWER 1
The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection are recounted in a series of 11 gospels that are read serially in the Sunday matins service. Each one of these readings also has a matching set of 2 hymns which are sung at the end of matins after the Sunday Exapostilarion (Holy is the Lord our God...) and the last sticheron of the praises (after the refrain "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit"). These hymns are called the Exapostilarion of the resurrection with its matching Theotokion and the Doxasticon of the Resurrection.
The Exapostilarion and Doxastikon summarize and emphasize certain aspects of the Gospel selection, in a leisurely and poetic way.

ANSWER 2
The Holy Scriptures record 4 times when Jesus appeared to all or most of the apostles.

The first appearance was to all the "eleven" save Thomas on the day of Christ's resurrection, when He entered their room at night, even though the doors where locked. The second was to all the apostles, with Thomas, eight days later.
St John reports these first two appearances (in the ninth matins resurrection Gospel, John 20:19-31):

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. {20} And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20)
...
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. {25} The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, 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 hand into his side, I will not believe. {26} And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. (John 20:24-26)

The 3rd reported appearance was when he beckoned to 7 of them from the shore, and told them to let down their nets, and they caught a great multitude of fish.
(This is reported in the 10th Matins Resurrection Gospel, John 21:1-14)

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. {2} There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. {3} Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. {4} But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. {5} Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. {6} And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. (John 21:1-6)

The last recorded appearance is by St Matthew at the very end of his gospel
(Matt 28:16-20, the 1st matins resurrection Gospel). St Matthew only gives a quick summary of events after the resurrection, mentioning only one appearance of Jesus to the apostles, which must have been after the previous three:

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. {17} And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. {18} And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. {19} Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mat 28:16-20)

ANSWER 3
On the day of the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to (in order) Mary Magdalene, two disciples who were in the country, to Peter alone, and to the eleven in the upper room (save Thomas). St Luke's account shows this order.
(See the 5th Matins Gospel, Luke 24:12-35,and the 6th, Luke 24:36-53)
Blessed Theophylact explains the texts especially well.

Therefore, among the disciples and apostles, Christ appeared first to the 2 disciples out in the country (see another question), and among the apostles, Peter was the first to see the risen Lord.

The first apostle to believe in the resurrection was St John, who believed after seeing the empty tomb in the early morning, according to his own account:

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. {2} Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. {3} Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. {4} So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. {5} And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. {6} Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, {7} And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. {8} Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. {9} For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. (John 20:1-9, the 7th matins Gospel of the Resurrection)

"'Twas the Belovèd Disciple John, whose heart was pure and undimmed by timidity, who before all others descried the light of the risen Christ through spiritual eyes; and with his bodily Eyes did he behold the manifested Lord."
(Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Paschal Epistle, 1956, Paris (see http://www.rocor.org.letters) Note that the "one whom Jesus loved" is a code that St John uses for himself. We know this from Holy Tradition, as the scripture is not absolutely explicit about the identity of this man (since St. John is the only evangelist to use this expression, we cannot reasonably expect him to explain it!) It is interesting to note that even among those who substantially reject Holy Tradition and subscribe to the unscriptural notion that the entire revelation from God is ONLY in the scriptures believe that this man was John. Such rejecters believe in and are dependant on more Holy Tradition than they are aware of, including more than just incidental information like this, such as the very councils that established the canon of scripture, and carefully defined doctrines of the two natures and wills of Christ, and many other things. May God lead them to the fullness of true belief.

ANSWER 4
Mary Magdalene is cited by St Mark as being the first to see the risen Christ:

Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
(Mark 16:9), part of the 3rd matins resurrection Gospel, Mark 16:9-20) This scripture would seem to decide the matter, but the holy tradition of the church, which is able to discern things spiritually, speaks otherwise. The very fact that from Pascha till the eve of the Ascension the church chants the beautiful hymn:

"The angel cried unto her who is full of grace, [saying] 'Rejoice, rejoice O Pure Virgin; again I say, rejoice! For thy Son is risen from the grave on the third day.'" (St. John of Damascus)

serves to indicate that there is a hidden story in the scriptures concerning the Mother of God and her risen Son. St Gregory Palamas eloquently explains this hidden treasure of knowledge, in a sermon about the Holy Myrrh-bearers. Only a small part of that sermon is shown below, so that you will see this wonderful truth.

...After the resurrection, the first person who saw Him was a woman, as we heard in Mark's gospel reading: "Now when Jesus was risen in the morning of the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene." (Mk 16:9)

Clearly, it would appear therefore that the Evangelist stated both the time of Christ's resurrection, that is, the morning, and that He appeared first to Mary Magdalene and at precisely the time of His arising. But that is not what it really says, as will be evident when we study the matter a little more closely, because the Evangelist previously said, in agreement with the other Evangelists, that this woman named Mary came to the tomb earlier, "very early in the morning" (v 16:2), with the other myrrhbearing women. And when they found the tomb empty they departed.
...
Now, there is something mentioned by the Evangelists in a very shadowy way and I will reveal it to you. Indeed the good news of the Lord's resurrection, as is proper and fitting, was received from Him first by the Theotokos, prior to all other men. Also prior to all others, she saw Him and delighted in His divine speaking. And she not only saw Him with her own eyes and heard Him with her own ears, but she alone first touched His sacred feet with her own hands.

However, the Evangelists do not say these things openly, because they did not wish to present the testimony of His Mother so they would not be giving unbelievers an excuse for suspicion. But now, through the grace of Him who is risen, we can explain it to the faithful.
...
I surmise and gather from all the Evangelists, therefore, that the Theotokos was the first person to come to the tomb of the Son of God, accompanied by Mary Magdalene. I conclude this mainly from the Evangelist Matthew, because he says, "...Mary Magdalene came and the other Mary" (Matt 28:1), Who was most certainly the Mother of God, to see the tomb. "And behold there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the entrance, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening, and his rainment white as snow. And for fear of him, the keepers trembled and became as dead." (v.2-8) All the other women, therefore, came after the earthquake and after the guards fled, and found the tomb open and the stone moved away. But the Mother of God arrived at the moment the earthquake was happening, the stone was being moved and the tomb was opened. The guards, although very shaken, were still present, and after the quake they rose up seeking to flee. But the Mother of God rejoiced beholding this scene. It seems to me that the life-bearing tomb was opened first of all for her, because through her all things were opened to us, all that is above in heaven and below on earth; and for her the angel so shone that, despite the darkness of the hour, she was able to see by the fullness of the angel's light not only the empty tomb but also the grave clothes neatly put aside and testifying to the resurrection of Him Who had been entombed.

Obviously, the evangelizing angel was Gabriel himself, because the moment he saw her rushing to the tomb, he, who in the beginning had said to her, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God" (Lk.1: 30), hastens now and descends to tell the Ever-virgin the same thing again and to announce the resurrection from the dead of Him Who without seed was born from her, and to lift the stone and display the empty tomb and the grave clothes in order to confirm the good news.

ANSWER 5
Luke and Cleophas walked with the risen Christ as they made their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. These 2 disciples had heard reports of the resurrection from the women, but were unable to believe. As they walked, Christ joined them, and expounded many things from the scriptures to them. At the end of their journey, as they ate, Jesus broke bread and blessed it, and it was only at this point that they recognized Him, and He vanished from their sight. Even though they had traveled the whole day and it was late, they immediately hurried back to Jerusalem, travelling late into the night, and joining the eleven who had also seen the risen Christ, while they were coming back to Jerusalem.

This moving story is the 5th matins resurrection gospel. (Luke 24:13-35)
It is read on Bright Tuesday matins, as well as taking its place in the rotation of the 11 Gospels read during Sunday matins. This Gospel is therefore read on the 5th, 16th, and 27th Sundays after Pentecost. The total number of readings in most years is 4.

ANSWER 6
Angels were heavily involved in making the news of the resurrection manifest, both by announcing it, and by rolling away the stone of the tomb. We first encounter God's messengers in the very early morning:

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. {2} And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. {3} His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: {4} And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. {5} And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. {6} He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.(Mat 28:1-6)

Note that in this case, the two women were not bringing myrrh to anoint the Lord, but were only going to investigate the tomb. The "other Mary" is understood to be the Mother of God. After the announcement by the angel, Mary Magdalene went away, but the Theotokos stood by, and it was at this time that the angel gave to her a second "annunciation", that her Son was risen, and then Christ appeared to her. Mary Magdalene was filled with joy and fear, but did not completely believe in the resurrection yet. Because of her ignorance, and with great love, she later hastened to the tomb to anoint the Lord Jesus, and the recording of this incident reveals the agency of two angels:

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. {2} And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. {3} And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. {4} And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: {5} And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? {6} He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, {7} Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. {8} And they remembered his words, {9} And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. {10} It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. {11} And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. (Luke 24:1-11) In this incident we see that the stone had already been rolled away from the tomb, and two angels announced to the small cadre of women the good news of the resurrection.

ANSWER 7 The Apostle Paul testified that he saw the risen Lord:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; {4} And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: {5} And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: {6} After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. {7} After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. {8} And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (1 Cor 15:3-8)

The Apostle refers to Christ's appearance in this way because it was several years after the resurrection. He was formerly called Saul, and was a great persecutor of Christians. He met Christ on the road, as he was hurrying toward another murderous errand:

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, {2} And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. {3} And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: {4} And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? {5} And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:1-5)

ANSWER 8
On the first day of the week, that is Sunday, in the evening, Christ appeared to the 11 while they were gathered in a room, even though the doors were shut. Both St Luke and St John report this appearance, each emphasizing different things.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (John 20:19)

The God-man Jesus Christ, Who easily left the tomb without disturbing the stone that closed it was not hindered by a closed and locked door. Our Lord's body after the resurrection teaches us something about the destiny of our bodies. Blessed Theophylact tells us that "this is how we must understand the body of the Lord after the resurrection: it is spiritual, refined, a stranger to all coarseness." (Blessed Theophylact, Commentary on St Luke) Our bodies will share in these attributes.

It is not without import that our Lord's first words were to give a blessing of "Peace". Only in the risen Lord may we obtain peace.

St John goes on the mention more of what the Lord said and did, which included the important ability of His priests to remit sins:

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. {22} And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: {23} Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:21-23)

ANSWER 9
Some time during our Lord's forty days on earth after the resurrection, he appeared to seven of the disciples, who were fishing. This was an event similar to the time He called some of them to be his disciples, but with important differences, made possible by the passage of His three years of careful ministry to them. the first time the Lord told the apostles to "let down their nets" is chronicled in Luke 5:1-13. More than three years later, the risen Lord gives the same instruction, as St. John records (John 21:1-25, comprising the 10th and 11th matins resurrection gospels). In the first case, our Lord only tells them to let down their nets, but to the tested apostles he tells them to let them down on the right side, and they obediently do so, as before, and are rewarded with a staggering catch of fish, which St John carefully mentions as one hundred fifty three. He marvels that there were so many, and yet the net was not broken. When the apostles were as yet uninitiated, and unlearned in spiritual things, the catch of fish broke their nets, and even when they had brought another ship to help with catch of fish, their boats began to sink. After their education and proving, their nets hold this great catch of fish, and one boat is able to contain it, without sinking. These fishers of fish were truly made worthy and able to be great fishers of men, and their net, that is the Gospel and the Christian way of life, would never break again, but will hold all those who come to the church.

In the previous instance, Peter was filled with fear, even asking the Lord to depart from him, as the as yet uninitiated apostle felt the full weight of his sins in the presence of the God-man. In this latter case, the exuberant Peter cannot wait to be beside his Lord, and throws on his fishers cloak, and casts himself into the sea. He who formerly had fear because of his sins now has confidence, because He knows the Lord.

The first great catch of fish was too much for one ship, so another ship was pressed into service, although even it proved inadequate to contain the catch of fish. In this second ship is shown in a mystery of the organization of the church, with it's bishops who are equal brothers, and rightly divide the word of truth. In the latter case, only one ship, with the seven Apostles, was able to fulfill the word of the Lord, and land all the fish. Here we see in an even more powerful way the church, and the infinite resources those within it have to fulfill the commandments, and contain all the fish, that is, souls, who are caught in the nets of the gospel.

After the other disciples landed their boats, and Peter pulled the net full of great fishes to land in obedience to the Lord's command (for all that is done in the church is in obedience to Christ), the Lord invited them to "Come and dine".
All the apostles knew it was the Lord, and were filled with unspeakable joy.

After the meal, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, and restored his faith fully. There is a deep mystery in this, which we will only understand if we live the Christian life, and experience forgiveness and knowledge, as did Peter.

ANSWER 10
Didn't you just hate it when a particularly impossible math problem was left "as an exercise to the reader" in your math textbook? Hopefully you will not mind it so much now. The answer to this question is left to, as was usually said in those snotty textbooks, as an exercise to the attentive reader. Hopefully you will do better on this question than I did on those math questions.

A few hints since I am not a math professor:
* Eleven disciples are afraid, then made glad.
* One works then takes a rest.
* Two women.
* Two young men.
* One disciple's faith is restored.
* The young one is faster than the old one.
* She now has more things to treasure in her heart.
* Their hearts burned within them.
* Gabriel is asked to repeat an important labor.
* One makes a mistake, then her weeping in turned into joy.
* No, this is not in order!

Answers to Questions about Thomas Sunday

ANSWER 1
St Thomas Sunday is the Second Sunday of Pascha, or, said another way, the first Sunday after the Sunday of Pascha.

The Gospel text for the day gives a clue as to why the celebration is at this time:

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." (John 20:19)

"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, 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 hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20:24-26)

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. ... " (John 20:27)

On the Sunday of St. Thomas, the Resurrectional Evlogitaria sung before the Hymns of ascent which precede the Gospel, and immediately after either the Polyeleos or 118th psalm in normal times) are not sung, and neither is the "Magnificat" ("My soul magnifies the Lord...", which is usually sung between the eighth and ninth ode of the matins canon). These hymns are omitted because the feast of St. Thomas Sunday is a "Feast of the Lord", and it supersedes EVERYTHING from the normal Resurrectional service, just as Nativity, or another feast of the Lord would.

ANSWER 2
"Having beheld the resurrection" (certainly very familiar to everyone who has sung the Paschal Hours in lieu of morning prayers during Bright week, since it is also sung three times then), is normally sung once in Sunday matins, just after the Gospel is read. During the Paschal season, until and including the
Sunday preceding Ascension Thursday, it is sung three times.

ANSWER 3
According to the Gospel of St. John, Jesus appeared unto the Apostles the first time on the evening of Pascha, with Thomas being absent, then the second time eight days later, with him being present. He originally did not believe because of the incredible reality of the resurrection. He needed to see the evidence.

ANSWER 4
The church characterizes St. Thomas' unbelief as "good", because it led to a greater manifestation of the reality of Christ's resurrection in the flesh:

"As the disciples were in doubt, / the Savior came on the eighth day / to where they were gathered and granted them peace, / and cried unto Thomas: / Come, O Apostle, and feel the palms in which they fastened the nails. / O good unbelief of Thomas, / which hath led the hearts of the faithful to knowledge! / Hence, he cried out with fear: // O my Lord and my God, glory be to Thee." (Sticheron from Lord I have cried, vespers for St. Thomas Sunday)

ANSWER 5
Just before Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus, which preceded His passion week by only a little, St.
John recounts in his Gospel:

"Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die
with him." (John 11:16).

This sentiment was also expressed by the Holy Apostle Peter during the passion week:

"Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not
follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice." (John 13:36-38)

St. John Chrysostom also states quite clearly the magnificent transformation of Thomas, and his great courage:

'Now they all feared the attacks of the Jews, but Thomas above the rest; wherefore also he said, "Let us go, that we also may die with Him." Some say that he desired himself to die; but it is not so; the expression is rather one of cowardice. Yet he was not rebuked, for Christ as yet supported his weakness, but afterwards he became stronger than all, and invincible. (6) For the wonderful thing is this; that we see one who was so weak before the Crucifixion, become after the Crucifixion, and after having believed in the Resurrection, more zealous than any. So great was the power of Christ. The very man who dared not go in company with Christ to Bethany, the same while not seeing Christ ran (7) well nigh through the inhabited world, and dwelt in the midst of nations that were full of murder, and desirous to kill him.' (St. John Chrysostom, sermon on St. John's Gospel, verse 21:12)

ANSWER 6
An Old Believer Sermon, based mostly on the writings of St. John Chrysostom and Blessed Archbishop Theofylact of Bulgaria, among others, explains that the expression "My Lord and my God" indicates the dual nature of Christ. As a man, He is called Lord, as an earthly king might be, and also is God.

The Aposticha for the Vespers service echoes this idea:
"O strange wonder, / unbelief hath given birth unto steadfast faith! / For Thomas said: / Unless I see, I shall not believe. / And when he touched the side of Christ, / he spake with divine authority / concerning the Incarnate One Who is the very Son of God, / and recognized Him as the One Who suffered in the flesh. / He proclaimed the Risen God, and cried with a radiant voice: // O my Lord and my God, glory be to Thee".

When Thomas proclaimed "My Lord and My God", he was saying something wholly unique, never said before. This was the first time Jesus was explicitly called God by one of His disciples.

ANSWER 7
Jesus appeared to all the apostles save Thomas on the eve of the day of the Resurrection - Sunday evening. He did not appear again unto them until eight days later, when Thomas was with them.

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst ... But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst..." (John 20:19a, 24,26a)

ANSWER 8
Jesus gave the apostles, and whom they would appoint, and their successors, down through the ages, the authority to bind and loose sins. A priest (or bishop, of course), usually exercises this authority and responsibility in the sacrament of confession.

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. ... Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John 20:19,21-23)

ANSWER 9
The Holy Apostle Thomas spread the gospel to India, where he courageously met his end, being run through with five lances.

ANSWER 10
On the day of Pascha, a portion of the story of the doubting of Thomas is read during Vespers. This Gospel is usually read in many languages, often in three short sections. The next week, on St. Thomas Sunday, the entire selection read during vespers is read again, and the story is finished, during the Divine Liturgy. This is the only time when a part of a gospel is read one week, then the reading is completed the next week. It is also not common to read a gospel selection in daily vespers.

Gleanings from the Fathers

The Personal Meaning of the Resurrection

"When you hear that at that time the Lord freed the souls from hell and the regions of darkness and that He descended into hell and did an amazing work, do not think that this does not have any personal meaning for you. Man, indeed, can readily accept the evil one. Death has its grip on the children of Adam and their thoughts are imprisoned in darkness. And when you hear mention made of tombs, do not at once think only of visible ones. For your heart is a tomb and a sepulcher. When the prince of evil and his angels have built their nest there and have built roads and highways on which the powers of Satan walk about inside your mind and in your thoughts, then really, are you not a hell and a sepulcher and a tomb dead to God? ... But the Lord descends into the souls of those who seek Him. He goes into the depths of the hellish heart and there He commands death, saying, "Release those captive souls that seek after me, those that you hold by force in bondage." He breaks through the heavy stones that cover the soul. He opens the tombs. He truly raises to life the dead person and leads that captive soul forth out of the dark prison."
St. Macarius, Homily 13. 11

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions (c) 1999 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

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1 Cf. one of the stichera at Vespers: "When Thou didst enter, O Christ, while the doors were shut, / Thomas, who was called the Twin, was not with them. / Wherefore, he doubted what was told him, / thus by unbelief confirming his belief. / And Thou, O Good One, didst not disdain to show him / Thine immaculate side and the wounds of Thy hands and feet. / Wherefore, having felt and beheld, / he confessed that Thou art neither naked God nor mere man, // and he cried: O my Lord and my God, glory be to Thee."
2 (Acts 5:15) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
3 (John 20:19,24) Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. ... {24} But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

4 Judas was dead, Thomas was gone, and the replacement for Judas (Matthias) had not been elected yet. This leaves ten.
5 John 20:20
6 (John 20:1-8) The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. {2} Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. {3} Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. {4} So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. {5} And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. {6} Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, {7} And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. {8} Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
7 (Luke 24:10-12) It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. {11} And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. {12} Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
8 (John 20:11-16) But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, {12} And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. {13} And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. {14} And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. {15} Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. {16} Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
9 Ibid.
10 Luke 24:13-33
11 We understand this from holy tradition, and the scripture: (Luke 24:33-35) And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, {34} Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. {35} And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

12 Cf. (John 20:27) Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
13 John 20:28
14 The Symbol of faith is also known as the "Nicene Creed".
15 The Sunday of the Myrhbearers is the 3rd Sunday of Pascha (counting Pascha as the 1st Sunday of Pascha)
16 The Samaritan Woman, whom the church knows as St Photini (5th Sunday of Pascha)
17 Cf. John 11, and especially (John 11:23-26) Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. {24} Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. {25} Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: {26} And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

18 (John 21:25) And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
19 John 20:21
20 John 21:11
21 Cf. John 21:15-19

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