The Eighth Day: Thomas Sunday

The Eighth Day: Thomas Sunday April 21, 2017

The resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week is also symbolically understood as happening on the eighth day creation, representing the eternal and everlasting joy of heaven which comes after the sabbath rest. For Jesus fulfilled in his death the perfect sabbath rest, and so in his resurrection, he brings us to the new week, the new creation. On the first day of creation God is said to have separated the light from darkness, good from evil (seen by some to represent the separation of the good angels from the bad), in the recreation of the eighth day, Jesus brings to us the glory of eternal life.

The Incredibility of Thomas by Anonymous via Wikimedia Commons
The Incredibility of Thomas by Anonymous via Wikimedia Commons

It is therefore not too surprising that this eighth day motif finds itself repeated with the Apostle Thomas, who accepts the resurrection of Christ only after his encounter with the glorified Jesus:

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 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!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name (Jn. 20:24-31 RSV).

Thomas, the twin, brings to us the secondary encounter of Christ, the twinning of the paschal celebration, as he receives Christ unto himself. He comes to Christ, holds him, touching the wounds of the passion, seeing it is indeed Christ, and no other, who has overcome death.  Thomas represents the continuation of the Lord’s new Passover, the eternal Passover of the resurrection, and so on Thomas Sunday we find ourselves brought once again to the feast of the resurrection. It is the continuation of the eighth day, and shows us that we, like Thomas, can come to the glory of Christ and the resurrection and receive unto ourselves the glory of Pascha.  That glory continues as every day; we are now able to partake of that eighth day celebration.

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! (Kontakion Thomas Sunday).

Thomas received Jesus as his God. For Thomas, upon seeing Jesus risen from the dead, came to properly understand the divinity of Jesus. He has come to open up the kingdom of God for everyone, and so he truly is the salvation of the world. The words which Isaiah wrote down now been clarified: “Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior” (Isa. 45:15 RSV). Jesus saves and so he must be God, for there is no other savior (cf. Isa. 43:11), and yet his divinity had been hidden by the assumption of humanity unto himself, so that his divine glory could not normally be seen. Thomas, having come upon the eighth day for himself, extolled the Lord as his spiritual eyes were opened and he truly came to understand all that Jesus had said and done.

Many signs and wonders continue to be revealed to those who experience the resurrected Christ, that is, those who receive the eighth day unto themselves. These are the signs and wonders which come to us from the eternity of God. No one could ever recount them all, because they are infinite in number. Each person, each encounter with the resurrected Christ, allows for new signs and wonders to be made manifest, some which can be explained to others by words, but some which never can be and must only be met in silence.

Let us seek to have new life in his name, the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the life which is eternal life, the glorious eighth day which has no end. We are able to receive it thanks to the resurrection of Christ. He is risen, and creation is now being recreated and perfected. The doors of sin cannot keep Jesus out; he is able to enter and lift up all that sin tried to keep down.  He brings his mercy, love and grace to those stuck behind barriers established by sin. His grace not only opens up the doors put up between God and creation, he has begun to tear them down, so that through the eschaton there will no longer be any barrier between God and creation. Let us therefore follow Thomas, and become his twin, opening up Christ in wonder and say “My Lord and My God,” not just in words, but in our deeds. Let us open up to Christ and show our love by doing as he wishes of us, so that we can receive our greatest heart desire, the goodness of God itself.



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