Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:26-28 Thursday of the 2nd Week of Pascha
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
As with many figures in the Bible, Thomas redeemed himself. After initially doubting the Resurrection of Christ, when he saw Christ eight days later, he offered the “highest confession” of Christ’s divinity in the Bible. He called Him “My LORD and my GOD!” Thomas went on to found the church in India. He was ultimately martyred for his faith by being run through with a spear. After it was “all said and done,” Thomas got it right, despite his doubts.
Thomas’ story is one of the most comforting in the Bible. Because it shows how a man can change and strengthen his beliefs. And it shows how the Lord is patient and loving as He waits for us to “find ourselves.”
There are two things to take away from today’s scripture passage. The first is that when Jesus appeared to the disciples eight days after His first appearance, that Thomas had missed, Thomas was with them. They had shared the great news that they had seen the Lord. And yet he was filled with doubts. But he still stayed “in” with the disciples. He kept “showing up.” He wasn’t so filled with doubt and discouragement that he left. This is an important lesson for all of us, when we have doubts about our faith, or about God’s plan for our lives. It is important that we keep “showing up”—to worship, to pray, to try. A dear friend once told me “eighty percent of life is just showing up.” Because when you “show up” things happen. And when you don’t, nothing happens. So, when you have the inevitable “crisis” of faith that just about everyone goes through, it is really important to keep “showing up” for church, for prayer and for the Lord, because in showing up, there is an opportunity to grow in faith and erase doubt. “Staying away” lessens, if not eliminates, that opportunity.
Allow me to share that there have been a number of occasions in my ministry when a young person has passed away. And I have told the families, “please make sure you are in church the following Sunday, please ‘show up’”. It is important as a witness for others. And it is important for a person when he or she stands before the Judgment Seat of Christ that one is able to say, “on a Sunday that I will filled with pain and doubt, I still ‘showed up’”.
The other lesson to take away from today’s scripture is if you were to make the same “confession” that Thomas made to the Lord, how would you fill in the blanks? Thomas said “My Lord and my God.” How do you fill in those blanks? How do you “confess” the Lord?
My “insurance policy on Christmas” and “Easter”?
My “rock” and my salvation?
My strength and my hope?
My joy and my purpose?
My challenge and my struggle?
My beginning and my ending?
Think seriously on how you “confess” Christ. Because how you fill in these blanks says a lot about Christ’s place in your life, the strength of your faith and what you think of your salvation. Indeed, Thomas’ confession provides us with the most profound way to think of our own confession of faith.
After eight days from Your resurrection, O Jesus our King, and the Father’s only-begotten Word, You appeared to Your Disciples, the doors being shut; and You granted them Your peace. And to the disbelieving Disciple You showed the marks on Your body. “Come and touch My hands and My feet, and My uncorrupt side. “ And he believed and cried to You, “My Lord and my God, glory to You.” (Doxastikon from Orthros of Thomas Sunday, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Fill in the blanks of this statement, directing it to the Lord: My _______and my ________.
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