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53. The Appearance of the Lord to the Apostle Thomas and the Other Apostles.

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut as at the first time. Jesus Christ came and stood among them and said, "Peace be unto you!"

Then, turning to Thomas, He said to him, "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."

Then, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!"

Jesus Christ said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

Note: See the Gospel of John 20:26-29.

The Appearance of Jesus Christ to the Apostles beside the Sea of Tiberias.

According to the instruction of Jesus Christ, His disciples went to Galilee. There they took up their usual business. One day Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel (Bartholomew), the sons of Zebedee, James, and John, and two other of His disciples fished all night in the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) and caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus Christ stood on the beach, yet the disciples did not know it was He.

Jesus Christ said to them, "Children, have you any fish?"

They answered, "No."

Jesus Christ said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." The disciples cast the net on the right side of the boat and now they were not able to haul it in due to the quantity of fish.

Then, John said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"

When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, sprang into the sea, and swam to shore, to Jesus Christ. But the other disciples came in the boat dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land. When they reached land, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish lying on it and bread.

Jesus Christ said to the disciples, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." Peter went and hauled the net full of large fish (a hundred and fifty three of them) ashore; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus Christ said to them, "Come and eat." Now, none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus Christ took the bread and gave it to them, and also the fish.

When they had finished eating, Jesus Christ showed Peter that He would forgive him his denial and elevate him again into the company of His chosen Apostles. Peter by his denial had sinned more than the other disciples. Therefore, the Lord asked him, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than the other disciples do?"

Peter said to Him, "Yes, Lord. You know that I love You."

Jesus Christ said to him, "Feed My lambs."

A second time Jesus Christ said to Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"

Peter again answered, "Yes, Lord. You know that I love You."

Jesus Christ said to him, "Feed My sheep."

Finally, Jesus Christ said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"

Peter was grieved because the Lord asked him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You."

Jesus Christ said to him, "Feed My sheep."

Thus, the Lord helped Peter to make amends for three times for denying Him three times and to witness his love for Him. After each of his answers, Jesus Christ returned him in the presence of the other apostles to the apostolic calling and made him a pastor of His sheep.

After this, Jesus Christ said to Peter, "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you will be old, you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." The Saviour said this to show Peter by his death he would glorify God. He would accept a martyrís end through crucifiction. After this Jesus Christ said to Peter, "Follow me."

Peter turned and saw John following them. When Peter saw him, he asked "Lord! What about this man?"

Jesus Christ said to him, "If it is my will that he remains until I come, what is that to you? Follow Me." The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die although Jesus Christ did not say that.

Note: See the Gospel of John, chap. 21.

The Appearance of Jesus Christ to More than Five Hundred Disciples.

Now, as Jesus Christ had directed them, the eleven apostles went to the mountain in Galilee. There more than five hundred disciples came to them. Then, Jesus Christ appeared before them all. Seeing Him they worshipped Him, but some of them doubted.

Jesus Christ came and said to them, "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; lo and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Amen."

Then, Jesus Christ appeared separately to James.

Thus, in the course of forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples, giving much conclusive evidence of His resurrection, and He talked with them about the Kingdom of God.

Notes: See the Gospels of Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-16 (not in English versions); I Corinthians 15:6-8; and the Acts of the Apostles 1:3.

Christ is Risen!

The great event, the Glorious Resurrection of Christ, is celebrated by the Holy Orthodox Church as the greatest of all feast-days. It is the Feast of Feasts and celebration of celebrations. This Feast is called Pascha (Greek for "Passover"), that is, the day on which is accomplished our passage (Passover) from death to life and from earth to Heaven. The celebration of the Resurrection of Christ continues for a whole week, and services held in the church are celebrated more festively than on all other days. On the first day of the Feast, Matins begins at midnight. Before the beginning of Matins, the celebrants, vested in brilliant robes, together with the faithful, accompanied by the ringing of bells, carrying burning candles, the cross and icons, proceed around the church emulating the Myrrh-bearing women who proceeded to the tomb of the Saviour in the early morning. During the procession, everyone sings, "Thy Resurrection, O Christ Saviour, the angels hymn in the heavens; vouchsafe also us on earth with pure hearts to glorify Thee." The first exclamation of Matins is made before the closed doors of the church while the festal hymn "Christ is Risen... " is repeated many times; and then while singing the hymn they enter the church. The services continue all night with open Royal Doors signifying that now, by the Resurrection of Christ, the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven are opened for all. On every day of this great feast we greet one another with the brotherly kiss and the words, "Christ is Risen!" and answer with the words, "Truly He is Risen!" We greet each other in this way and exchange coloured eggs, which symbolize the new, blessed life revealed from the tomb of the Saviour. Bells ring all week. From the first day of Holy Pascha until vespers of the Feast of the Holy Trinity, no one is permitted to kneel in church or to make prostrations.

On the first Tuesday after Bright Week, the Holy Church extending the gladness of the Resurrection of Christ to those who died in the hope of the general resurrection especially commemorates the dead; and therefore, this day is called "Paschal Soul Day." On this day, the Liturgy is celebrated with commemoration of the dead. On this day, it is customary to visit the graves of oneís close relatives. This custom differs in some aspects among local churches.

Besides this, the day of the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated by us on every Sunday of the year.

Troparion for the Feast of Pascha.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life.

Kontakion for the Feast of Pascha.

Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of Hades. And didst rise as victor, O Christ our God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! And giving peace unto Thine Apostles, Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.

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