cyril_alexandriaAnd after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see My Hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into My Side: and be not faithless, but believing (John 20:26-27).

Such was the extreme accuracy that the compiler of this book [St John] took pains to observe, that he is not content with simply saying that Christ manifested Himself to the holy disciples, but explains that it was after eight days, and that they were gathered together.

[…] For He visits, and in some sort dwells with, those assembled together for His sake, especially on the eighth day, that is, the Lord’s day….

On the one occasion He appeared unto the other disciples; on the other, He manifested Himself to them, when Thomas was also present.

It is written in the preceding passage: When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut, He stood in the midst. 

Note, that it was on the first day of the week, that is, the Lord’s day, when the disciples were gathered together, that He was seen of them, and that likewise also He appeared unto them on the eighth day following.

And we must not, because he says eight days after, suppose that he means the ninth day, but that when he says this he includes the eighth day itself, on which He appeared, in the number given.

With good reason, then, are we accustomed to have sacred meetings in churches on the eighth day.

And, to adopt the language of allegory, as the idea necessarily demands, we indeed close the doors, but yet Christ visits us and appears unto us all, both invisibly and also visibly; invisibly as God, but also visibly in the Body.

He suffers us to touch His holy Flesh, and gives us thereof. For through the grace of God we are admitted to partake of the blessed Eucharist, receiving Christ into our hands, to the intent that we may firmly believe that He did in truth raise up the Temple of His Body.

For that the partaking of the blessed Eucharist is a confession of the Resurrection of Christ is clearly proved by His own Words, which He spake when He Himself performed the type of the mystery.

For He brake bread, as it is written, and gave it to them, saying: This is My Body, which is given for you unto remission of sins: this do in remembrance of Me. 

Participation, then, in the Divine mysteries, in addition to filling us with Divine blessedness, is a true confession and memorial of Christ’s dying and rising again for us and for our sake.

Let us, therefore, after touching Christ’s Body, shrink back from unbelief in Him as utter ruin, and rather be found well grounded in the full assurance of faith.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St John’s Gospel, book 12 [on John 20:26-27].

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