“The fathers of the Church say that this bliss is a pledge of great blessings for us, perhaps greater than the holy apostles were accounted worthy of, but on condition that we, like the apostles, full of this blessedness, must give our entire lives to Christ, and serve His Gospel evangelism. This is the condition for felicity. Such a great gift the Lord gives us: We are more blessed in this world than the apostles.“
The good news is that Christ does not ask us to conquer sin and death by our own power, for He has already done that. But He does ask us truly to have faith, which requires a faithful life, even as we constantly ask for His mercy and strength to participate as fully as possible in the joy of His resurrection.
Faith, we would say, comes with difficulty, hazard, risk and daring. This is why He blessed those who believe without tangible evidence. The strongest evidence is the confirmation of our hearts. The hard-to-believe Thomas is our brother, he is weak, but definitely sympathetic.
The first Sunday after Pascha is dedicated to the memory of the Apostle Thomas and his particular reaction to the Gospel of the resurrection of Christ. It is a continuation of the Gospel lesson which was read at the Vespers of Pascha Sunday: John 20:19-31. The Gospel lesson for this Sunday is simply continuing a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by dealing with the very real reactions of Christ’s own disciples to the Good News.
A question stands before us: which kind are we? Do we talk about Christ’s Resurrection only in other people’s words? Do we really rejoice with a full heart? … Are we convinced only because other people know this and we trust them, or has this news done something to us—and knowing by experience that Christ has risen, we can no longer be the same as we were before?
The Evangelist provides the meaning of the name here to indicate that Thomas was prone to be of two minds—a doubter by nature. He doubted the news brought to him by the others, not because he thought they were liars, but because he considered it impossible for a man to rise from the dead. And his doubt made him excessively inquisitive.
Since the Resurrection of the Lord is the greatest and most important event and beyond all thought, it is rededicated not only once a year, but also on every "eighth" day. The first rededication of the Resurrection is this present Sunday, for it is truly both the "eighth" day and the "first." It is the eighth day after Pascha, and the first day, because it is the beginning of the other days. Again, it is called the "eighth" day because it prefigures the unending day of the future age to come, which will be truly the "first" day and a day that is not divided by a single night. This is why this Sunday is called the Antipascha, which interpreted means "in the place of Pascha."
The first week after Pascha is called Renewal week, or the week of Antipascha (the Greek prefix, anti, means “in place of”)—that is, the renewal of Pascha. On this Sunday, the Lord repeated and renewed for all eleven of the Apostles His appearance on the first day after the Resurrection.
People say: if we had seen Him we would not have denied Him. This is not true: the majority of those who denied Him had seen Him, and they denied Him because they did not love spiritual values, and the victory over the devil spoke but little to their hearts; they desired external success.
Although from the very early morning on the day of the resurrection the good news of the resurrection was carried throughout creation, and even though angels from heaven (Mark 16:6) and holy myrrhbearers on earth (Luke 24:9) and even the guards at the Sanhedrin (Matthew 28:11) had already told of the miracle, the apostles were still in a state of fear and doubt, hiding behind doors and locks “for the fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).