by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
Gospel Reading: St. John 20; 19-31
This Sunday is known and revered as the New Sunday as it is the new Sunday after our Lord's defeat of Satan and the death. Our Lord attained the transformed body immediately after the blessed resurrection, and the same is offered to one and all who might live in Him and enter the eternal life. Due to the new experiences of resurrection our Church Fathers have named the first Sunday after the Easter as the New Sunday.
The first sentence of today's reading confirms that the incident took place exactly on the evening of the blessed Resurrection of our Lord. Verse prior to today's reading says that by the time all Apostles were informed of the latest developments by Mary Magdalene. Our Lord appeared to the Apostles when they were hiding themselves from the Jews in a room. Our Lord entered there when the doors were closed. He stood in the middle and said "Peace be unto you". Our Lord's intention was to keep up their morale and make them fit for the job assigned to them. He said "I send you as my Father has sent me". Prophet Isaiah foretold about the appointment of the Son in Isaiah 61:1. St. Paul gives a more wide meaning for this task in 2 Timothy 2:2. In his version this process is to be continued from one faithful to the other. In Hebrews 3: 1-2 we read, "Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostles and High Priest of the profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him that appointed him as also Moses was faithful to his entire house."
Immediately our Lord handed over the authority to the blessed Apostles to forgive the sins, saying "whose sins are remitted by you, they are remitted unto them, and whose sins you retain they are retained." 24th Verse says that St. Thomas, our Apostle was not there. St. Thomas was brave and he had staunch faith in God Almighty. He was not afraid of the Jews and hence he had gone out when others were frightened of the Jews and they remained in the room in fear and by closing the door. But when he came back, others told him what had happened in his absence. They all said "We have seen the Lord." But he said, "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."
For this reason only our Lord appeared to them all once again after 8 days when St. Thomas was with his colleagues. There is no reason for the denial of St. Thomas when our Lord asked him to reach his finger and to behold our Lord's hand. It is traditionally believed that St. Thomas reached his finger through the print of nails in our Lord's palms and he did put his hand in the wound on the side of our Lord and all the other Apostles kissed the hands of the Apostle of India, as it had touched the living blood and flesh of our Lord. The tradition says that it was the beginning of the Kai Muthu (Kissing the blessed hands of the celebrant) after the Holy Eucharist, where the celebrant handles the flesh and blood of our Savior.
In verse 28 we read, "And Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and My God."
Our Lord had a special care and affection to St. Thomas. Only because of it, our Lord appeared to the Apostles again on the 8th day. So also our Lord had a special care for our Mother Country and its people. St. Thomas is the only Apostle who started his missionary work with the influence and direct intervention of our Lord God. (All others went to their destinations immediately after the places of their mission works were determined through lots) It is a special privilege and matter of prestige of India and the Indian Church. For this matter the Churches in India must be proud of and are obliged to thank God for His mercy and compassion for this part of the world. We often think of St. Thomas as 'doubting Thomas'. But he had maintained a sort of strong and staunch faith in God Almighty. And he was fearless also, who once exhorted his colleagues to die with their Master. There is a traditional faith that St. Thomas was an Architect by profession before becoming an Apostle and hence his scientific knowledge must have compelled to witness the reasoning of the resurrection of our Lord.
In verse 30 it is written: "and many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book". Likewise the touching of St. Thomas on the wounds of our Lord might have missed from the writings.
Let us learn the 31st Verse by heart. "But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life through his name." Let us try to have real life in us through the blessings of our risen Lord.
May God bless us all.
Jesus' Appearance to St. Thomas
by Very Rev. Dr. Yohannan Sankarathil Cor-Episcopa
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