Thomas Sunday

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
“My Lord, and my God”
Thomas Sunday
4 May, 2008
Acts 5:12-20 ; John 20:19-31

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Christ is risen

Today in the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the apostles were teaching in the Temple. They were sharing with everyone the joy and the truth that they knew about Jesus Christ. They were for this put into prison, but an angel let them out. They went back to the Temple, and they kept on teaching and talking, and they continued to share their love of Jesus Christ. The apostles simply had to share this love and this hope. The authorities of the Temple still tried to make them stop, but they could not, because the apostles could not refrain from proclaiming the Truth. They could not stop sharing the Truth.

The truth is that God loves us. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, who was killed by us, but He rose from the dead. This is our life. It is our life because, just like those apostles, we can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who loves us. It cannot be otherwise, because that is what love is about. Love is about an inter-personal relationship which is good, which is life-giving. That is what our marriages are supposed to be like. Even though they are not perfect, they can get better still. Our marriages are supposed to be characterised by self-emptying love, and the giving of oneself to the other completely (one hundred per-cent), with each serving the other.

When He was washing the feet of the apostles just a week ago, our Saviour, Himself, was giving us this example of service. He also told us : “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). He said, also, that we have to do the same for each other. We can only do this sort of thing for each other if we have the love of Jesus Christ alive in our hearts, if we have come to know personally His love. That is one of the reasons that you and I are here today – not only because we have encountered this love of Jesus Christ in our lives, but also because we want this love to grow, to multiply, because it is our life.

The Apostle Thomas in the Gospel today did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead because he had not yet seen the Risen Christ. It was, of course, difficult for him. As we read the Gospels carefully, and listen carefully (especially next Sunday with the Myrrh-bearers), we will see that the other apostles were not so quick to believe either. At first, the women were confused. The tomb was empty, and the angel was telling them that Jesus is risen. Then the apostles saw an empty tomb, too. It was not until they experienced the Risen Jesus Christ, Himself, that they believed that the Resurrection had truly happened.

Thus, we can see that the Apostle Thomas was not so different in his uncertainty, even though all his brothers, the other apostles, were saying that they had encountered the Risen Christ. Nevertheless, when the Apostle Thomas did encounter the Risen Christ, his immediate response was to proclaim : “My Lord and my God”. From there, he went on to share this love of Jesus Christ in many parts of the world. It is probable that he passed through Persia and Afghanistan as he went on his way to India, both to the north and to the south. In the south of India, he established the Orthodox Church (even though it is in the oriental form now) that lasted until now. There are Indian families in the state of Kerala (and I think, also, in Madras), where people can trace in their families all the way back to the Apostle Thomas their conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. It was because of the love that the Apostle Thomas was sharing with those people. He showed them that there is not a multitude of gods that are all pretenders. There is only one God – one God who created everything, and He has revealed Himself, in His love, in Jesus Christ, who is the Motivator of the Apostle Thomas.

It is important for you and for me, here in Canada, to remember this apostolic love for Jesus Christ. It is necessary for you and for me to remember what those apostles accomplished with their love for Jesus Christ. They shared it with everyone, everywhere. It is precisely because the Apostle Andrew went to Romania, Russia, and many other places, too, in his apostolic voyages, that we are, many of us, here today as Christians. It is because of his sharing of love.

We have the same call as those apostles. We have the call to share this love. That is why you and I, Orthodox Christians, are here in Canada. We are here to share the love of Jesus Christ, and even more, to share the truth about Jesus Christ. In pluralistic Canada, people seem to believe that there are many truths. Even according to philosophy and logic, that idea is just plain silly. There can only be one Truth ; and that Truth is Jesus Christ, who said, Himself : “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). It is our responsibility to share Jesus Christ, who is the Truth.

We share this Truth by living in His love, by behaving in His love towards our friends, our neighbours, our relatives, people we do not even know yet. We serve them, as our Saviour served the apostles, and as He serves you and me to this day because we keep crying to Him : “Help me”. “Save me”. “Give me this”. “Give me that”. He does not give us everything that we ask, certainly, because very often we do not ask for what is right. However, He gives to us what is right for us. He is always there. He restores us to health, as He did in the reading on Bright Friday through the Apostles Peter and John, when they brought His healing love to the paralysed man outside the temple. This man jumped up, ran around with joy, and praised God continually (see Acts 3:6-8). This is what we all are to be doing in this love of Christ : helping people to understand how to have life in praising God, how to have hope in praising God, how to have a real sense of being in praising God.

Brothers and sisters, while we are standing here close to the Lord today, let us ask our Lord, again, to renew our love for Him, to refresh our love for Him, and to help us to begin more closely to in His love to resemble Him in how we behave towards people around us every day. Glorifying Him in our way of life, may we also be granted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven at the end of our days, and there eternally to glorify Him, our Saviour Jesus Christ, together with His Father, who is from everlasting, and His all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.