Reverend Fr. Dr. George Toma
The second Sunday of the Resurrection is called a new Sunday because our Lord Jesus Christ by His suffering, death and Resurrection renewed the whole world which was corrupted by the breaking of the commandment of God. The fathers of the Church of the East in regard of calling the second Sunday of the Resurrection new Sunday say:
“On Sunday the New day. Come let us sing the new glory. Unto the Christ the new groom. For He has promised us the new world.” (Khoodra Prayer Book, Volume II, Page 601)
Jesus after His Resurrection from among the dead did not immediately ascended into heaven. He stayed for 4o days and 4 nights on earth then He ascended into heaven in order to:
- Strengthen the faith of His disciples about His Resurrection from among the dead on the third day.
- During the forty days Jesus prepared His disciples for the great commission to go and courageously and without doubt preach the good news of His death and Resurrection from among the dead. It was of utmost important that the Apostles would believe in the death and Resurrection of the lord which is the foundation of the Christian faith.
We learn from the Holy Bible that:
- Jesus rose from among the dead on Sunday“the first day of the week”.It is written:
“1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (Which means “Teacher”)? 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:1-19)
- On Sunday the risen Lord met with two of His disciples on their way to Emmaus. These disciples were talking about the suffering, death and Resurrection of the Lord. Jesus is always present among those who talk about His death and Resurrection namely the plan of Salvation. He Himself said whenever two are gathered in my name I am there among them. It is written:
“13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” (Luke 24:13-16)
- On Sundaythe risen Lord taught His disciples about His death and Resurrection from among the dead. The two disciples had a little doubt about the Resurrection of the Lord. Jesus as usual played a role of a teacher and removed their doubts by explaining the scriptures for them. This is exactly what happens in the Holy Mass. The readings are read and a Priest in a person of Christ “as a soul of the Risen Lord” explains in his sermon the teaching of the readings and the gospel lesson. It is written:
“17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they spoke to Him about Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross…… 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:17-27)
- On the first Sundaythe Lord celebrate the first Mass.
Our Lord Jesus Christ celebrate two Masses both in the evening. One before His Crucifixion immediately after He ate the last supper with His disciples according to (Matthew 26:26). The second after His Resurrection with two of His disciples in the village of Emmaus. So rule of celebrating the Eucharist in the evening was indeed established by the Lord Himself. He Himself said whenever two are gathered in my name I am there among them. It is written:
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30)
- On the first Sundayof the Resurrection in the evening the risen Lord appeared to the ten of His disciples who were gathered in the upper room behind the closed doors from the fear of the Jewish leaders. Saint Thomas was not with them. It is written:
“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!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord”. (John 20:19-20)
- On the second Sundayof the Resurrection the Risen Lord again met with His disciples in the same upper room and Thomas was with them. It is written:
“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 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.” 26 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!” 27 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.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)
- The lessons we are learning from the gospel lesson:
- When the disciples so what happened to the Lord they lost their hope. All their dreams collapsed. They were not sure what their future is going to be. The same thing happened to their Lord might happen to them. So they locked themselves in fear in the upper room. In the midst of fear and hopelessness the risen Lord met with His disciples and gave them peace by saying “peace be with them”.
We should believe that in the midst of fear and hopelessness the Lord will not leave us alone. He will be present among us and He will take away our fear and haplessness by giving us peace of His Resurrection.
- The goes after his believers. The disciples hid themselves from the fear of the Jewish leaders behind the locked doors. They were not searching for the Risen Lord. In the midst of fear and hopelessness the Rison Lord as a good shepherd went out searching for the lost ship namely His scattered disciples. He did not stop searching till He found them. Even though we might not search for the Lord He will search for us.
- The need for personal meeting with the Rison Lord. We might sometimes just like Thomas have doubt about our faith. In such times it is for our benefit not to withdraw ourselves and stay away from the church gathering. We are in need Just like Thomas to meet the Lord personally and accept Him as our Lord and our God.
- Withdrawing ourselves from the Church gathering in the time of trouble. Saint Thomas was deeply saddened by what he has seen happened to the Lord. He lost his hope and his faith shook. This is the reason for withdrawing himself from meeting with the rest of the disciples and began hiding himself. Saint Thomas by withdrawing himself from meeting with the rest of the disciples lost the blessings of the first meeting of the Rison Lord with the rest of the disciples on the first Sundayof the Resurrection. Once Thomas came back and began meeting with the rest of the disciples he participated in the blessings of the second meeting of the Risen Lord with His disciples. So we should learn from the mistake of Thomas that whenever we are in trouble instead of withdrawing ourselves from the church become closer to the church. We should not separate ourselves from the church gathering because we will miss the blessings of the meeting of the Lord with the Church.
- The Lord meets with those who gather in His name.
The Lord met with the ten disciples who gathered in His name in the upper room. He did not meet with Thomas who withdraw Himself from the church gathering “From the disciples who gathered in the name of the Lord”. The Risen Lord meets in a special way with those who gather in His name. It is written:
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
On Sunday the Lord rose from among the dead. On Sunday He met with His disciples. On Sunday He walked with them. On Sunday He taught them about the plan of God for the Salvation of the World. On Sunday He celebrated the Holy Eucharist. After the same manner the Risen Lord will meet with those who gather in the church in His name. Will walk with them in the journey of their faith. Will celebrate the Eucharist with them in the person of the ordained priest. This is what makes Sunday a Lord ’s Day.
- The Holy Church believing in the above mentioned reasons, from the very beginning began to gather and worship God on Sundayinstead of Saturday. It is written:
“7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together.…” (Acts 20:7-8)
Again it is written:
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)
Rev. George Toma
Saint Andrews Parish – USA
April 5, 2016