Dear Members and Friends of St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto!
Christ is risen!
“And after eight days, again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said: Peace be unto you!” (John 20:26ff)
Today, brothers and sisters, eight days after the Resurrection of Jesus, is dedicated to St. Thomas. Thomas was not with the disciples when the Lord appeared to them the first time. But, as the text I just quoted says: “And after eight days…”
St. John Chrysostom says that Thomas would not believe his eyes, and that the Lord condescended to be touched by him. Our Lord did not despise Thomas for doubting. Our Lord will respond to our doubts also, whether it takes eight days or eight years to resolve them! Nothing could be worse than to be a blind believer. Nothing does greater disservice to the Christian Faith than fundamentalism. Orthodox are not blind believing fundamentalists! We are Christ’s rational flock; His rational sheep. We have reasons for what we believe. God has given us reason, and each one of us possesses it to a different degree. The Holy Fathers say that we are to take our reason as far as it will go..and then, where reason leaves off, faith begins. The Church even calls Thomas’s doubts “good”! “O good unbelief of Thomas which has brought the hearts of the faithful to knowledge!”
Doubts try our faith and prove it like gold is tried in the furnace. Temptations prove our love for God. If we are never tempted, beware! If we never have doubts, beware!
St. Theophylact the Bulgarian says that Jesus came through the closed doors so that He could show the disciples not only how He could come through the sealed tomb without breaking the seal, but also how He could come through the sealed womb without breaking the seal. Augustine, the theologian par excellence of the West, for all his faults, says beautifully commenting on this Gospel: “He came through the closed doors in the same way He came through the Virgin’s womb which remained shut. If you understand how, then you don’t need faith. If you don’t understand how: there is the beginning of faith!” Even Augustine admits that Our Lord came through His mother’s womb without breaking the seal… unlike some “Orthodox” theologians today, who in effect, deny the Virgin Birth! I know: I had one as a teacher.
Even before Pentecost, Our Lord gives the apostles power to bind and to loose: “He breathed on them and said:”Receive ye the Holy Spirit…” It seems like He couldn’t wait until Pentecost to grant us forgiveness and peace!
St. Thomas is the first to publicly declare the divinity of Christ. St. Peter says only: “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God!” St. Thomas says: “My Lord and my God!”
But hear what Our Lord says to Thomas: “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me Thou hast believed. But I say unto you: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
“O good unbelief of Thomas which has brought the faithful to knowledge.”
Dear parishioners and friends of St. Theodore’s!
To avoid confusion for those who phone in their confessions, we have decided to keep our land line. Initially because of the expense, we had thought to dispense with it, but we don’t want to discourage anyone from contacting their spiritual father! Please use this number: 416 767 3579.
We are hoping that with the gradual easing of restrictions for “social distancing” we may again begin to meet as a congregation. Because St. Theodore’s is so small; I think this will have to begin at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene which is much larger. This, our sister parish in which I have been serving for the past year and a half (along with St. Theodore’s) is very much in need of our support. Since this church will play such an important role in our return as a worshiping community, I beg you to refer to the message sent me below.
In Our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ,
Your unworthy priest,
We opened a GoFundMe account to help St. Raphael church.
Can you please pass on this info to all the parishioners.
Thank you very much Father.