Every Sunday of the paschal period the Church proffers us shining examples of faith. On the first Sunday after Pascha we see the unbelieving disciple, Apostle Thomas, who expresses doubt in Christ’s actual Resurrection until he can personally confirm it through his five senses. The merciful Lord is understanding of the spiritual weakness of His disciple, and helps Thomas overcome his disbelief and his doubt. “My Lord and my God!” – Thomas cries out rapturously, with firm belief in the Resurrected Christ, after touching the Lord’s wounds and invisibly feeling His Divinity.
But at this point the Lord, in response to Thomas, says very important words, important for all of us, because they are the key to an understanding of faith and everything that it gives us. “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed,” says Christ, “but blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.”
With these words the Lord not only gives praise to those who can believe, who can overcome the limitation of their five senses, in order to penetrate, by means of faith, into the limitless expanse of the unseen world. The Lord also calls such people blessed in the sense of promising them bliss.
And what kind of bliss is it, dear brethren? It is the bliss mentioned in the beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The Lord reveals to us the great joy that we can see God even better than Apostle Thomas saw Him. Certainly, Thomas saw God and even touched Him, but this was on the limited level of the five human senses – Thomas saw God in human flesh. The faithful, on the other hand, can see God with their spiritual eyes, without any barriers or limits.
Only one condition is required for that – to have a pure heart, and we already know how purity of heart and soul is attained: through fasting, prayer, the keeping of God’s commandments, and most of all – through repentance and the partaking of the Divine Mysteries.
The importance of having a pure heart and the spiritual heights to which it can lead us is well explained in the paschal canon. “Let us purify our senses,” – the Church sings during these bright paschal days, – “and we shall behold Christ radiant with the unapproachable light of the Resurrection.” In other words, the Church tells us that if we cleanse our five senses of passions, and thus acquire a pure heart, then with our spiritual eyes we will be able to see our Lord Jesus Christ, shining with the indescribable light of His Resurrection – that extraordinary light, brighter than the sun, with which He shone in all His glory when He became transfigured on Mount Tabor.
Truly, dear brethren, let us purify our senses which are sullied by sin and passion; let us strive to acquire a pure heart; let us reject all doubt and disbelief. Then the Resurrected Christ will be revealed to us, too, brightly shining and indescribably radiant, and we, together with the Apostle Thomas, will be able to cry out joyously and rapturously: “My Lord and my God!” Amen.
Father Rostislav Sheniloff