Sunday of Thomas - The 2nd Sunday of Pascha

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, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

For Your Information (for further information and resources visit family.goarch.org)

We have all heard of "doubting Thomas," and we all have a "doubting Thomas" in us. Doubt keeps us from faithfully committing ourselves to the Lord. We remember Thomas for his doubt, but the Church remembers him for his ministry as a faithful servant of God. After Pentecost, Thomas went on to serve the Lord faithfully, unto death, by preaching the Gospel in India. Let us, trusting in the Lord's presence in our lives, be among those about whom Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

For Consideration

  • What does Jesus do as He first greets the apostles? Why?
  • What does Thomas tell the other apostles? What happens when he actually sees Jesus?
  • What does this Gospel passage mean for our lives?

To Do Together

  • Re-enactment - Have your children write a skit to act out the Gospel passage from Thomas Sunday. Let them be creative using music, costumes, and other decorations.
  • Doubting Thomas - Discuss as a family the following quote from St. Gregory the Great. Focus on how Christ does not desert us in our doubts.

Divine compassion brought it about in a wonderful way that when the doubting disciple touched the wounds in his Master's body, he cured the wounds of our unbelief. Thomas's unbelief was of more advantage to our faith than the faith of the believing disciples because when he was led back to faith by touching Jesus, our minds were relieved of all doubt and made firm in faith. And so after His resurrection Jesus allowed His disciple to doubt. But He did not desert him in his doubt.

  • Visit the Cemetery - In some Orthodox churches, visitations are made to the cemetery on this Sunday to pray for those who have departed and proclaim the resurrection of Christ. If your church does this, take your children with their Pascha candles even if you don't know anyone buried there. If this is not a practice of your church, consider visiting graves of relatives with the Pascha candles and flowers. Sing "Christ is Risen!" and read memorial prayers for the departed. You can find these prayers at the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America www.onlinechapel.goarch.org.

Final Thought

In 1957 Fr. Cleopa, an Orthodox monk, was riding on a train when he encountered some atheists who were making fun of him for his belief. One of the men said, "Look, Father, isn't it absurd to expect us to believe in something that can't be seen? You say that God exists, but has anyone ever seen Him? It is absolute foolishness for someone to believe in what he does not see!" Fr. Cleopa responded, "So according to your statement that you cannot believe in something that isn't visible, wouldn't it then be foolish for me to believe that you have a mind if I have not seen it? How can I believe that you have a mind if I have never seen it? What does it look like?" After the men admitted that they all had minds, Fr. Cleopa continued, "So we will go on and admit that everyone has a mind, right? We agree on this, even though we cannot see the mind. Let's move on. Have you ever seen life? Who has ever seen life? Would anyone say that a person is dead when he is obviously alive? Yet, can you see actual life?" "Well, no you can't," they admitted. "So wouldn't it be foolish for us to believe that people have life if we cannot see it?" "But, Father, life is something that is manifested," they countered. "Very good!" answered Fr. Cleopa. "Through its manifestations, we can believe that life exists even though we cannot see things that we call life. That is how it is with God!"

- adapted from Elder Cleopa of Sihastria

A Closing Prayer

O Lover of mankind, great and immeasurable is the multitude of Your mercies; for You endured being struck by the Jews, handled by Apostles, and investigated by those who reject You. How did You become incarnate? How were You crucified, You who are sinless? But make us understand, as You did Thomas, so that he cried to You, ‘My Lord and my God, glory to You.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Both now and forever. Amen.

- from the Vespers of St. Thomas Sunday

For Further Information

  • Elder Cleopa of Sihastria translated by Mother Cassiana - Read the story of this holy man who spent more than eight years secluded in the mountains of Romania, hiding from the Communist authorities who wanted to imprison or kill him. Available from St. Vladimir's Seminary Press; Crestwood, New York.
  • "Do You Believe in God?" by Madlyne Saba - Written for her peers by a faithful Orthodox teenager, this article deals with doubt and remaining true to God. Available at http://www.antiochian.org/1211.
  • Mission in India - Learn a bit about Orthodox missionary work taking place in India, where the Apostle Thomas first shared the Gospel. For more information, visit the Web site of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center at www.ocmc.org.

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