Just notes; not the actual verbatim homily but the gist of it.
Christ is Risen!
We have heard the Gospel reading today from John. It is a story of the Resurrection, proof of the bodily resurrection.
You may recall that when Mary Magdaline encountered Jesus on Pascha, she was instructed not to touch Him. In today’s reading, we have the opposite occur.
Man’s feeble reasoning will inform us that there is no way anyone can walk through a door, yet human reason fails as Christ did walk through the door. Reason fails and faith informs.
Think about it, we have a similar miracle to the one that occurred at the Incarnation, God was born of woman, without violation of her virginity. So why could He not walk through a door?
In both cases, God, in the Son Jesus Christ, “accommodated His presence to man’s weak sight, and presented Himself in such form, as that His disciples could look at and recognize Him.” (St. Augustine of Hippo, AD 430) Christ does the same for us, but do we see him Him?
We have another series of opposites evident as a result of the Gospel reading.
“The Jews, whose minds were transported by a frenzy of fury, rejoiced when they saw Jesus nailed to the Cross, while the heart of the holy disciples were heavy laden with an intolerable burden of sorrow.” (St Cyril of Alexandria, AD 444) Yet in today’s Gospel reading we have the opposite, it is the disciples who are rejoicing and the enemies of Christ who are in sorrow, if not fear.
The Jews thought Him dead, yet Christ was alive.
He who died, “dieth no more…for He is alive forevermore, and…He will preserve those whose hope is in Him, in joy without ceasing.” (St Cyril of Alexandria, AD 444)
Indeed Christ on that fateful day turned the world upside down when he said, “Whosoever’s sins you remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever’s sins you retain, they are retained.” (John 20:23)
In His proclamation, He was challenging the rulers of this world, those “invested with regal honour and dignity.” (St Cyril of Alexandria, AD 444)
Yet, with Jesus’s proclamation, He was investing “His disciples with the dignity which befits the Nature of God alone. The word of the Father cannot err.” And yet today we still have those “invested with regal honour and dignity” who would challenge the Lord.
Perhaps the latter – those “invested with regal honour and dignity” – believe the Lord is dead and they now live like the kings of old? Or perhaps, and we pray they are, like Thomas [who] believed not the Apostles when they said, We have seen the Lord; not so much mistrusting them, as [Thomas] deeming the event to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead.” (St. John Chrysostom, AD 407)
It was “eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” (John 20:26, 27)
What we read is not a simple display of Jesus by Jesus, but a sharp rebuke of Thomas for his unbelief. And so, Jesus may rebuke us – although I pray not, for our unbelief. If we are rebuked I pray that we have the same response as Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
The preceding is important, so please take heed, because there are those in this world who, like Friedrich Nietzsche, believe that God is dead and they can, thus, overrule the Risen Christ, and dispense with His Holy Mysteries.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29) Remember: Reason fails and faith informs.