Today is Thomas Sunday because he had missed meeting Christ right after the Resurrection, and then had to wait eight more days in order to see Him and believe. Thus, he is commemorated on the eighth day after Passcha. The homily was, as I recall, mostly on “showing up.” That is to say, Thomas is often referred to as “doubting Thomas” because he would not believe the reports of the other disciples without himself encountering the risen Christ. Fr. John emphasized that it was not so much that Thomas was different from any of the other disciples in wanting a first-hand experience in order to believe; when Christ had come to them a week before He had given exactly the evidence Thomas wanted: “Behold My hands and My feet, that I am He! Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me have. And when He had spoken this, He showed them His hands and feet. And while they still did not believe for joy, and wondered, He said to them, Have you any food here? And they handed to Him a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb. And He took it and ate before them” (Luke 39-43). The difference was simply that, for whatever reason, Thomas had not been there at that time. Thus, the theme of “showing up.” Fr. John also mentioned that both occasions occurred on the “kyrie accie (sp?)” — the day of the Lord, and the eighth day, and that Pentecost is the eighth day after a “week of weeks.” Also, that showing up for church at least on this day each week should be non-negotiable for us; we must also be attentive and hope to encounter God.
That seems right. I might add that it can be important to hope for something from God, but not be too specific on what that something should be. I remember last Summer showing up late for a daily Vespers, and found the Kodiak Island St Innocent Academy choir there, with reports of grace and a visit from the Mother of God, and so on. Having showed up late I’d apparently missed something, but having showed up, there was still some grace in operation. Once we sung to the Theotokos in honor of the visit of her icon (Kurst root, I think); the icon never did show up, but there was still grace and joy as there wouldn’t have been if we had simply left.
I’ve got a growing sense that while it is true that, as St Paul mentions, we are not held in judgment for failing to observe times and days and seasons and so on, it is also true that grace is often offered in accordance with those days and seasons. That isn’t to say that we only get one chance and that’s it; Thomas still did get to see and touch Christ, even though he was absent at first. I suppose that if someone were absent at Pentecost they still would have gotten to know the Holy Spirit. But they still would have missed out on something spectacular.