On the evening after Resurrection, Jesus entered with his glorified body, without being subjected to the thickness of walls, to the disciples when they were meeting in the attic “for the fear of the Jews”. The disciples feared that their people would destroy them in order to end the whole case of Jesus permanently. Jesus greeted them normally, and because He knew that they would doubt His appearance, “He showed them His hands and side” and therefore they recognized that He is the Lord. After confirming that He is the rising one – with Jesus knowing that they are filled with Him – the time had come to delegate them and send them, so He says: “Receive the Holy Spirit”. The Spirit dwells in me and I have His gifts. You shall have all His gifts in order to build the Church so that every believer takes the gift that is chosen for him by the Divine Spirit: Teaching, managing, preaching… as Paul shows in his epistle to the Romans. Then He also tells them: “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven”.

The background of this speech is that Jesus, through His death and resurrection, made the new covenant with us; this is the covenant that Jeremiah spoke about, in chapter 31, when he said: “I shall forgive their trespasses and forget their sins”. The apostle doesn’t forgive according to his own will. He knows God’s thought about every sin, and he expresses the divine forgiveness or doesn’t. In the Gospel of Matthew it is written that: “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18: 18). This stresses on the fact that the Church after Pascha and after the spiritual renewal, became the only place in which we repent and gain forgiveness. The Church used these words as a basis for the sacrament of repentance. Thomas, who was absent on the eve of Pascha, doubted the Lord’s appearing. When the Lord appeared again after a week, i.e. on the Sunday that we call St. Thomas Sunday, the Lord reproved him for his lack of faith. Then, Thomas said to the Lord: “My Lord and my God”. Such strong confessions are rare in the New Testament. As for His words: “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”, this doesn’t mean that we should easily believe whatever is said to us. Faith is something inside the soul; it was thrown there by God. Lots of people that lived in the time of the Lord saw His miracles and heard what He said, yet they didn’t believe. The eye and the ear are not enough.

Perhaps, Jesus’ reproving for Thomas carries a meaning that Thomas must have believed in what the disciples said. Lots of people doubt, and those don’t have a less understanding ability that other people. They usually say: This issue isn’t easy for the mind. Doubt is a satanic temptation, it is a defect in the faith that we had. Logical understanding doesn’t always come through faith. Also, logical doubt doesn’t come through the lack of faith. Faith is throwing yourself into the Father’s bosom and submitting yourself to Him. And if you found yourself in confusion or suspicion, accept what the Church says i.e. the righteous doctrine that we took from our ancient fathers throughout generations. Believing in heaven, eternal life, the Holy Trinity, the intercession of saints, in icons, the forgiveness of sins… All of these are things that let doubt enter our minds. Become informed in what the Church says and “be faithful not unfaithful”.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “أحد توما” –Raiati 17- 22.04.2012