by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
The Holy Church has set apart this Sunday exclusively for the youth. It is to honor the youth and to submit them for God’s abundant and continuous mercies and protection. This Sunday is known as “New Sunday” as it is the first Sunday after the wonderful experience of being baptized and admitted to the Holy Church on the day of the resurrection of our Lord, for the catechumen. The Holy Eucharist was administered to them on the next Sunday after the Easter and those days were used to be the day of new experiences for them. Hence this Sunday came to be known as New Sunday. It is a Sunday of new experiences, visions and staunch faith. The entire week immediately after the Easter is known as ‘Howere’ days. The word literally means brightness. The catechumen, to whom Holy Baptism was administered, used to wear white shining dress for a week as a symbol of the heavenly blessings gathered and acquired by them and hence those days were known as 'Howere days' or days of brightness.
In the special context of the Church in India, the New Sunday is dedicated to St. Thomas. St. Thomas was a brave person among all the Apostles and he might have had gone out when resurrected Lord Jesus appeared before the other 10 Apostles. (He might have gone to collect some food or such needy and unavoidable things for him and others.) All the Apostles were really scared of the Jews around and hence they all remained inside the doors secretly)
“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 said unto them, Peace be unto you.” (Verse 19) From this we learn that the resurrected body of our Lord was ideal for entering the rooms where the doors were closed. From verse 21 to 23 we find our Lord authorizing His beloved disciples for the continuation of His mission on earth including granting forgiveness for sins. In verse 22, our Lord asks them to receive the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean that they were given Holy Spirit when St. Thomas was not there. Before our Lord’s Ascension to heaven, He asked all the disciples to wait for the promise of His Father, which they had heard from Him. (Acts 1: 4) When other Apostles informed St. Thomas about their audience with Lord Jesus, St. Thomas insisted that he would believe so only after putting his fingers in the wounds. (By touching his wounds on the palms and side.)
Our Lord had a special concern for St. Thomas and for this only reason our Lord appeared again in front of the Apostles. Soon after wishing Peace to one and all, our Lord said to St. 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.” Though it is not recorded that St. Thomas did what was asked by Lord Jesus, there is no reason to think the other wise. According to the tradition and faith of our fore fathers, St. Thomas put his finger in the marks of the wounds and immediately all the Apostles kissed the hand of St. Thomas, as it had touched the living body of Our Lord and Savior. It is traditionally believed that the kissing of the hands of the celebrants after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist started then and there, as the celebrants handle the living and life giving body and blood of our redeemer. Now almost all celebrants are using a small cross to grant 'Kai Muthu'. It would be better to allow the faithful to kiss the hands of the celebrants as it would be more meaningful.
May the continued prayers and intercessions of St. Thomas, the Patron Saint of our Mother Church and Mother country be a fort and protection for one and all. It is worthy to remember that Lord Jesus had interfered only in the matter of St. Thomas, to decide the field of his mission. It shows our Lord’s deep concern for the faithful in India and His desire that St. Thomas must be our spiritual father. May God bless us all.
Devotional Thoughts on New Sunday (First Sunday after Easter)
by Rev. Fr. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
Jesus' Appearance to St. Thomas
by Very Rev. Dr. Yohannan Sankarathil Cor-Episcopa
Devotional Thoughts for New Sunday
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
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