Homily 260 – Second Sunday of Pascha (Thomas Sunday)
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
April 23, 2017
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Christ is Risen!
Sometimes Pascha brings a huge relief. We hear the sermon of St. John Chrysostom, extolling the triumph of Our Lord.
We sing, over and over, of the death of death.
And we perhaps think that the battle is over – at least for a while. At least until Pentecost. We don’t have to fast this week. Life returns to what we know as “normal”.
The Account of St. Thomas, who doubted and then believed, is testimony to all of life being the struggle. All of life being Great Lent.
We combat the Evil One in different ways at different times.
Now many may say, Father – don’t speak of the Evil One! It is Pascha! He is defeated – Christ is the victor! We need not worry about the Evil One!
But the Evil One didn’t throw up his hands on Pascha and say, OK, you win.
That’s it – I quit.
No, the Evil One will never quit. Ever.
Rather, he looks for opportunities to confuse us. To confound us. To create doubt.
To find a weakness – to locate where our guard is down – and exploit it.
That is what St. Thomas testifies to. He let his guard down. He lost hope. And it overwhelmed him.
He couldn’t believe in a risen Lord. Not unless he could see it with his own eyes. And more than that, unless he could touch the body, the print of the nails, the wound of the spear.
He would not accept the testimony of his 10 brother apostles. Or the disciples. Or the women. Nothing but himself.
It speaks to the trauma of the crucifixion for St. Thomas. Where there is great trauma, great evidence is required.
He was traumatized by the crucifixion – and he would not allow his hopes to be destroyed that way again. He would not set his expectations so high. He would not allow his expectations to get that high.
We know what that is like. We dare not allow ourselves to hope. Because we’ve been let down before.
How then can we live? The greatest sin, in the minds of the elders and fathers of the Church, is despondency. Living without hope.
We have to ensure, though, that the hope is in the right place.
Or, rather, the right person.
Put not your trust – your hope – in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation. That’s what we sing.
Our hope is in one thing – salvation. And that requires our hope to be in one Person – Jesus Christ our Lord.
We don’t hope for material blessings. The Lord isn’t going to buy us a Mercedes-Benz. Janice Joplin and Michael McClure had their hope misplaced.
But we hope for salvation – the redemption and unification to our God in our pre-fallen state. And in that, we can faithfully trust Christ.
The first step was accomplished on the Cross and in the Tomb. Death is defeated – death is dead.
Death was injected, indwelled with Life itself. And just as a lit candle in a dark room eliminates darkness – darkness ceases to exist –
So too does death cease to exist when Life, the author of creation and source of existence, enters into it.
Death is overthrown! Death is no longer in existence!
The physical experience we call death is no longer death! It is the separation of the soul and the body – unnatural but easily rectified, since Christ has physically resurrected – reunited His own body and spirit.
And promises the same for us.
So keep your guard up. Celebrate the resurrection – certainly. But watch and pray.
And hope. With confidence, and expectation, hope. He will never let you down.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Christ is risen!