I went to church today. It was damp and rainy after a subdued Bright Week in this strange time. We remembered Saint Thomas, the blessed doubter. It was he who, after the Resurrection, said that he would not believe it until he had seen and touched the wounds on Christ’s risen body. Locked up in a room with the other Apostles for fear of what was outside, he would not just accept the account told to him by the others. He had expectations about how the world works and wanted to see the literal, material evidence. Christ, of course, appeared among them, showed up inside their locked room as we may think a ghost might. He does this perhaps, to satisfy Thomas’s desire to see the fact himself, and to extend this knowledge into the realm of meaning. After this experience, doubt was no longer what characterized Thomas. He went on to have a clear vision of what he should do with the rest of his life based on what he had seen. He went outside and helped Christ’s body to grow and reach distant places in the world.
Today I got to thinking about why Christ’s resurrected body would still show the wounds, and why Thomas would be expecting to see them. It seems supremely rational to expect the Son of God’s incarnate human body to be made perfect in form. If His body could be raised from the dead, then it seems a lesser and very appropriate feat to restore those visible injuries as well. Perhaps the answer to this is that His body itself is part of the revelation. His body tells the story and shows its role in the salvation of mankind. It is the key to a pattern manifested in the material realm. The story is about more than simple perfection. Thomas knew what he was looking for and he was shown much more than that.
In our parish and many others, on this first Sunday after Pascha, we go down to the cemetery and bless all the graves. In this strange year with no crowd and in the cold rain we just went for a short procession around the church. Maybe at Pentecost we can all go down there together. The Resurrection, the graves, the rain; they are all parts of our story.
Troparion (Tone 7)
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!
Kontakion (Tone 8)
Thomas touched Your life-giving side with an eager hand, O Christ God,
When You did come to Your apostles through closed doors.
He cried out with all: You are my Lord and my God!