Anti-Pascha (Byzantine Rite): 26 April 2020

Reading from Isaiah

Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.

~Chapter 55, Verses 4-6

Reading from Troparion

From the sealed tomb, You did shine forth, O Life!
Through closed doors You did come to Your disciples,
O Christ. God!
Renew in us, through them, an upright spirit,
By the greatness of Your mercy, O Resurrection of all!

~Tone 7

Reading from the Gospel of John

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them,

They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes,
but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain and they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?

She saith unto them,

Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary.

She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. Then said Jesus to them again,

Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

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 unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither
thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

~Chapter 20, Verses 1-31


The week after Pascha, Bright Week, the procession is repeated in glory, The Royal Doors stay open to the altar and symbolizes the open stone of Christ’s empty tomb as well as the rent veil of the earthly Temple of Jerusalem , which was torn apart at the moment Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, died on the cross. It is here in time, on the Sunday after Pascha, during the remembrance of the appearance of Christ to the Apostle Thomas that we can really began to explore what this new wonder 8 days after the Resurrection really means for those first followers of Jesus, the beginnings of The Holy Church, and the faith of so
much many yet to come.

To go forward in a journey we must often go backward to the beginning to see where a path has begun or where it is going becomes obscured or trampled in the current steps. The reappearance of Christ on the 8th day to the entirety of the apostles is a completion of a longstanding relationship of the 8th day and God with his people. Since Genesis circumcisions were called for on the this day, Noah is said by Peter to have had 8 souls passed through him to prepare him for the world God made whole.

In Exodus God asks for the firstborn on the 8 th day. 8 Names have been given to Jesus. 8 writers of the New Testament write of his life, death, and resurrection, and in Revelation Book 1 there are 8 references from the Old Testament used to declare the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All of these biblical moments from Creation through Revelation culminate here in this moment with our apostle Thomas.

Mary Magdalene and others have believed by seeing evidence of a missing body, angels appearing, information spoken by trusted followers, but Thomas believes only as he sees the wounds on the body of the risen Christ and hears the words directly from him. Christ blesses all of the apostles, even Thomas who doubted, and all that will come believe in what covenants he has come to fulfill, equally with the same words. Thomas will now be remembered as he who had to touch the wounds before he believed.

The Covenant is the same, the Power, and Word of the eighth day is the same, for all who keep it, from Creation to Second Coming. We cannot have the privilege or misfortune of having to wait to touch the wound. We are blessed and given complete testament old and new of what was, has, and is to come.

Thomas went on after his doubts to build the Holy Church in far reaches of the world and was a kindness and friend to Mary, The Theokosos until the end of her earthly days. What can we build after doubts or shortcomings in our own physical and spiritual lives?


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