August 18, 2019

Homily on the Ninth Eothinon Gospel - John 20:19-31

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Eothinon read today is very well known because the first part of it is read in church during the Agape Vespers, the first day of the Resurrection of Christ, and wherever possible it is read in many languages, and also the entire text is read on Thomas Sunday. because it refers to him.

This Gospel reading describes two appearances of Christ to His disciples. The first appearance took place in the evening of the first day of the Resurrection, while Thomas was absent, and the second appearance took place the next Sunday, after eight days, in the presence of Thomas.

In His first appearance, Christ gave His disciples three great gifts. The first is peace. He told them "Peace be with you." It is an inner peace, which by the grace of God frees people from inner doubts, turmoil, fear and insecurity. It is the peace of the Resurrection and such peace creates in the soul joy, which is why it is said "the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord." The second gift is the mission to the world. He gave them the power to send them on an apostolic mission around the world. He said to them, "As My Father sent Me, so do I send you into the world." Christ is an Apostle, Christ's disciples are Apostles. But this mission of the disciples in the world was not to do what other people do, but to do what others cannot do, that is, to forgive their sins. And this is the third gift He gave them; He gave them the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. Therefore, those who accept their mission will gain the experience of their sins being forgiven, and those who do not receive them will not be forgiven of their sins.

Whoever sees the Risen Christ receives these three gifts, that is, they receive peace, transcending death, thereby becoming a beneficial person in society and throughout the world. When they receive the apostolic office, that is, the priesthood of Christ, through the Church, then they benefit people in various ways by the forgiveness of their sins.

In His second appearance after eight days, in the presence of the Apostle Thomas, Christ showed His philanthropy and His love, having accepted being touched by Thomas, and of course he went on to grant great faith that is the fruit of the experience of the Resurrection. In the teachings of our Fathers, Thomas was not an unfaithful Apostle, as we understand and mean by unfaithful, but he wanted to move from faith by hearing to faith by vision. Faith by hearing is belief associated with information that others give us. The disciples assured the Apostle Thomas that they had seen Christ, but this faith was not enough for him, since he wanted to go on to faith by vision, he wanted to see Christ personally. Christ therefore let him be catechized for a whole week, and then He appeared to give him faith by vision. Then Thomas said, "My Lord and my God."

The Resurrection of Christ, my beloved brethren, which we celebrate every Sunday, is the fullness of life, it is the greatest gift one can obtain in their life. It is an initiation into a mystery, which is at the same time a mystery of the regeneration of our existence. Such alteration creates peace, faith and joy within all of us. God's economy and love, however, makes us gradually become initiated into this event perhaps because we could not otherwise take it. We accept the words of the eyewitnesses of the Resurrection of Christ, we remain in it, and then we can gain a personal experience of the Resurrection. Our church attendance every Sunday and hearing the words of modern apostles will give us the certainty of the existence of the resurrected Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.