On Easter morning the first witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection were women, one of which was Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene at first did not recognize Christ, but when He calls her name, she does.
Two people, one of them being Clopas (according to some early Christian tradition the brother of St. Joseph, walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus meet someone on the way, and they together talk about the events that happened in Jerusalem. The man explains them that these things had to happen. When they later eat together, and He blesses the bread, breaks it and gives it to them- then they recognize the man is the Risen Christ (Gospel of Luke 24 :13-35). They return to Jerusalem and tell the Disciples. In the Gospel of St. John 20, we read that our Lord Jesus Christ then appeared to His Disciples.
“ On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (Gospel of St. John 20: 19-25)
The Sunday after Easter is called “New Sunday”, or Thomas Sunday:
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Gospel of St. John 20: 26- 29).
St. Thomas is not the only one who wanted more proof than just the eyewitnesses’ report of the women who went early on Easter morning to the empty grave.
The Gospel of Luke 24:11 recounts that also the Disciples did not believe the women. St. Peter however goes to the grave to be sure that it is empty. The people going to Emmaus also had a hard time believing the women.
But when Christ appeared also to St. Thomas and answers to his doubts in exactly the same wording, St. Thomas confesses his faith with the words “My Lord and my God”.
This Sunday is also called New Sunday, as since the Resurrection of our Lord, all has been renewed: the relationship with God, broken by our sins, has been repaired and renewed by Jesus Christ.
Our Lord and our God.
Pictures: St. Thomas touching Christ’s wounds. Mosaics in the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.
Courtesy of Piacenti SPA