On April 19, on the Sunday of Antipascha, or Sunday of St. Thomas, we had a nice celebration in our church. The Rector of St. George, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:
“One week after Pascha we celebrate Sunday of St. Thomas. It is a feast to commemorate a wonderful moment in the life of that disciple of Christ – the moment of recognizing his Lord and his God, Jesus Christ. The icon picturing that moment is called “The Recognition”. The Gospel story of that had been read today. Thomas refused to believe in Christ’s Resurrection until Jesus appeared to him and offered to touch His risen Body, to put a finger into the print of the nails, to reach the hand and to put it into Jesus’ side. At that moment Thomas recognized Jesus and professed Him to be his Lord and his God.”
“St. Thomas required proof of Christ’s Resurrection. It happens very often that people want to see the proof of things coming from God, of things of a supernatural nature. Those things are hard or impossible to reach using our human mind, our human knowledge or our human senses. They require us to have faith. Therefore, they may not be proved if we rely only on our reason, knowledge or senses. Many people refuse to believe in God or in other things revealed by God without proof. They say, “Show me, prove it to me and I will believe!” But they do not want to believe. They want to know. These are different things. Faith is not knowledge. Faith is a special state of our soul which allows us to accept things our mind refuses to accept. Faith is beyond the reason, it is above the reason. This is why it is so precious and valuable.”
“When we read different Gospel stories of the great miracles Jesus performed, we notice that very often He stresses the importance of faith for those who are being saved, cured or delivered from evil. Several times we hear from the Lord: “Your faith had saved you…” The Lord desires to act through our faith. He wishes our participation, our cooperation, our response to His miraculous power. You need to have faith in order to be saved. And you need to have faith if you wish that the Lord’s power would act upon you.”
“In some comedy movie a minister preached about faith and said: “If I don’t see my eye brows, it doesn’t mean they are not there, above my eyes. Thus if I don’t see God, it doesn’t mean He is not above me.” It could be meant as a joke about religion. But it makes sense. How can we claim that something is not real, only because we are unable to see it? How can we say that something is not true if we are unable to see our own eye brows? Well, we may touch our eye brows and know that they are there. But our knowledge will be limited. In order to see them, we would need a mirror. We may see them only in our reflection.”
“Comparing this to our today’s celebration of St. Thomas Sunday, we should admit that if we use only our human senses, it would be impossible to prove that God exists, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man, that He was truly risen from the dead, and that the whole our religion has a value. All these things are above our human understanding. But if we have faith, if we use it, God will open our eyes and show us Himself. St. Thomas required proof, but when Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him, he stopped requiring, he simply recognized His Lord and His God. Jesus Christ is that mirror that may show us God. He became Man, became our reflection in order to show us the reflection of God, to reveal us God who is invisible and beyond our comprehension. Through faith in Jesus Christ God will reveal Himself to us. And we will be able to recognize Him and to exclaim with St. Thomas: “My Lord and my God!””
Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English repeating the main thoughts of his Russian homily. He then distributed the Artos, a Paschal bread blessed on the feast of the Resurrection, to the faithful.