Saint Thomas of the Twelve

“Except I shall See In His Hands”

Wednesday May 4, 2022 / April 21, 2022

Second Week of Pascha. Tone one.
Fast. Fish Allowed

Hieromartyr Januarius, bishop of Benevento, and his companions: Festus, Proclus, and Sosius, deacons; Desiderius, reader; and Eutychius and Acutius, laymen, at Pozzuoli (305). Hieromartyr Theodore of Perge in Pamphylia, his mother Philippa, and Martyrs Dioscorus, Socrates, and Dionysius (2nd c.). Uncovering of the relics (1999) of St. Theodore of Sanaxar (1791). St. Alexis, priest of Bortsumany, Nizhni-Novgorod (1848). New Hieromartyr John priest (1918). St. Nicholas confessor, priest (1933). New Hieromartyr Alexis priest (1938). Martyrs Isaacius, Apollo, and Codratus of Nicomedia (303). St. Maximus (Maximian), patriarch of Constantinople (434).

The Scripture Readings

Acts 4:13-22
John 5:17-24

God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we are able to love ourselves

By St. John Chrysostom
John 20:24-25
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The
other disciples therefore said unto him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said, “Except I shall
see in His hands — I will not believe.”
2/3

  1. As to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over-easy temper; so to be
    beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this
    account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, “We
    have seen the Lord”; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible,
    that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he says not, “I do not believe you,” but,
    “Except I put my hand— I do not believe.” But how was it, that when all were collected
    together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place,
    he had not returned even then. But do thou, when you see the unbelief of the disciple,
    consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself
    with His wounds, and comes in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the
    rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would
    not even trust his eyes. For he said not, “Except I see,” but, “Except I handle,” he says, lest
    what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things,
    were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more,
    Christ did not deprive him even of this.
    And why does He not appear to him straightway, instead of “after eight days”? [John 20:26]
    In order that being in the mean time continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the
    same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the
    future. But whence knew he that His side had been opened? From having heard it from the
    disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very
    strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they
    hide no faults, either their own or others’, but record them with great veracity.
    Jesus again presents himself to them, and waits not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear
    any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire;
    showing that even when he spoke those words to the disciples, He was present. For He
    used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the
    future. For having said,
    John 20:26
    “Reach hither your finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither your hand, and thrust it
    into My side”; He added, “And be not faithless, but believing.”
    Do you see that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the
    Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.
    And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being
    fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,
    John 20:28-29
    “My Lord, and my God.” He says, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed
    are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
    3/3
    For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since,“ Faith is the substance of things hoped
    for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1] And here He pronounces blessed not
    the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. “Yet,” says some one, “the
    disciples saw and believed.” Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of
    the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before
    they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore any one in the present day say, “I
    would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles,” let them reflect,
    that, “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
    It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was
    tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of
    condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were
    shut, was free from all density ; but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be
    believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another
    rose not in His stead. On this account He arose bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this
    account He eats. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection,
    saying, “We, who ate and drank with Him.” [Acts 10:41] As therefore when we see Him
    walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different
    nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the
    nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore corruptible. For He exhibited these
    appearances on account of the disciple.


HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT SERAPION

Serapion wanted to save a sinner,

And so took the appearance of a sinner upon himself.

He entered the room of the sinner as if to commit sin,

But before sinning he spoke to her in this manner:

“You wait for a while–we have the entire night–

Until I complete my prayer; then we will proceed to the misdeed!”

Serapion began to read the prayers,

Raising his mind toward God, that it not wander anywhere.

And prayer after prayer he began to recite,

Sigh after sigh he raised to the Most High.

He read the entire Psalter and other prayers,

And began lengthy prayers for the sinner.

He interrupted his prayers with sobbing and sighing,

Until even the sinful woman began to moan,

To groan and sob as never before in her life.

She realized that the saint had not come to commit sin,

But rather to save her from her perversion,

To raise her to God and to cleanse her from filth.

Then the woman exclaimed: “What should I do?

Behold, I am ashamed and repulsed with myself!”

Serapion then gave her instructions

And committed her to the care of wise sisters.

Then he took his path to the wilderness,

Joyful, because a sinful soul had been saved.


REFLECTION

You will hear this kind of justification from many who pursue riches: “When I become rich, I will be able to perform good works!” Do not believe them, for they deceive both you and themselves. St. John Climacus knew in depth the most secret motives of men’s souls when he said: “The beginning of love of money is the pretext of almsgiving and the end of it is hatred of the poor” (Step 16). This is confirmed by all lovers of money, both the very rich and the less rich. The average man says: “If only I had money, I would carry out this and that good work!” Do not believe him. Let him not believe himself. Let him look as in a mirror, at those who have money and who are not willing to do this or that good work. That is how he would be if he acquired some money. Again, the wise John says: “Do not say that you must collect money for the poor, that through this assistance you might gain the Kingdom. Remember, for two mites the Kingdom was purchased” (Step 16) (cf. Luke 21:2). Truly, the widow in the Gospel purchased it for two mites, and the rich man, before whose gates Lazarus lay, could not purchase it for all of his countless riches. If you have nothing to give to the poor, pray to God that He will give to them, and by this you have performed almsgiving and purchased the Heavenly Kingdom. When St. Basil the New prophesied to the empress, the wife of Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, that she would first give birth to a daughter and then to a son, the empress offered him much gold. The saint refused it. The empress implored him in the name of the Holy Trinity that he take the gold. Then St. Basil took only three pieces of gold and gave it to his needy servant, Theodora, saying: “We do not need too much of these thorns, for they prick much.”

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:

1. His head, sorely wounded by the thorny wreath;

2. His eyes, closed from pain;

3. His mouth, dry from thirst.

HOMILY

on the First and Last Who lives

“Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Thus says the Lord Jesus to His beloved disciple John in a vision on the island of Patmos. Do not be afraid of what? Do not be afraid of the pagan persecution of the Church. Do not be afraid of the tormentors who persecute My Faithful on all sides. Do not be afraid of emperors who raise up persecutions against the Christians. Do not be afraid of this world’s powerful tyrants, who mock and ridicule My humility in My death. Do not be afraid of demons, who blind men with passions so that they cannot see the truth which I brought to the world. Do not be afraid of anything!

How can I not be afraid, O Lord!, Why then should we not be afraid when the entire world is armed to the teeth and assembled against us, who are small in number and unarmed?

Do not be afraid, for I am the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega. All of those forces armed against you are nothing but a whirlwind of the dead. I am before time and I am after time; before the beginning of all and after the end of all things that were created, I Am! They are all locked in one span of time, which I measured out to every created thing; and outside of this span of time, they cannot extend.

Do not be afraid, for “I was dead; and behold, I am alive.” Do not be afraid, not even of death. I am before death and after death. Death is My servant, and I permit My servant to serve Me in the world. I gave Myself up to My servant for three days and ordered him to release Me, and now I am alive. I am the Master of death as well as of life. I am the Master of time as well as of eternity. Do not be afraid!  I am alive forever and ever. And you will be alive with Me. All they who remain faithful to Me and are not afraid will live with Me. Do not be afraid; I am Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:11).

O Lord, eternal and immortal, allow these holy words of Thine to ring always in the souls of Thy faithful whenever a persecution is raised up against Thy Holy Church, so that, holding on to Thy right hand, we may not be afraid.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.