The Fifty Holy Days

“I am the First and the Last.  I am He who lives and was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of Hades and of death. (Rev. 1:18)

The Fifty Holy Days is a period of rejoicing in the Resurrection of our Lord and our resurrection with Him. It is the time to experience the new life in our Lord Jesus Christ. During the Fifty Holy Days, as we rejoice in the victory of Christ over death, we joyfully sing the Resurrection Hymn, “Christ is Risen”: “Christ is risen from the dead. By death He has trampled upon death and to those in the tombs, He bestowed eternal life.” We find that when one of our beloved departs, the true comfort we find is in the resurrection of Christ. In the Litany of the Departed, we pray “for there is no death to your servants, but a departure”.

If a person plants with effort, toil, and tears during Great Lent, then the Fifty Holy Days is the time of harvest, accompanied by joy and gladness. The Fifty Holy Days is a unique period, there is no fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays and no private fasts, no prostrations and the church prays in festal tunes even in funerals.

During this period, the Church lives the life of happiness, which was experienced by the disciples after Christ’s resurrection and His appearance to them.

The Lord told His disciples, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” (Jn. 16:22) This was fulfilled when Christ appeared to His disciples on the eve of the Sunday of the Resurrection and told them,” ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (Jn. 20:20)

The Lord’s presence with the disciples led them to experience joy, which lasted with them for the rest of their lives. In the beginning, they saw the Lord with their eyes and touched Him, and they were happy. He continued to appear to them for forty days speaking to them about things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3), until the time came for Him to leave them and ascend to heaven. However, after the forty days when Christ ceased to appear to them, the disciples’ happiness did not end.

The Readings of the Sundays of the Fifty Holy Days

The Church arranged special readings appropriate for the Fifty Holy Days. All the readings revolve around the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, we rejoice in Christ in our Heavenly Bridegroom.

First Sunday, also known as Thomas Sunday (Jn. 20:19-31). The Church presents to us the Resurrected Christ as the source of our joy, as it is written, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” (Jn. 20:20) The gospel confirms the reality of the Resurrection, since it is written that Christ, “showed them His hands and His side.” (Jn. 20:20) On the following Sunday after the Resurrection when Christ appeared to them again, He said to Thomas, who wanted a physical proof of the Resurrection, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands, and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (Jn. 20:27) Then Christ blessed all those who believe without seeing, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jn. 20:29) The reading of the first Sunday confirms the reality of the Resurrection and gives importance to the belief in the Resurrection of Christ, while experiencing continuous joy, because our Christ is a Living Christ.

Second Sunday (Jn. 6:35-45) presents to us Christ as the Bread of Life, which came down from heaven.

Third Sunday (Jn. 4:1-42) talks about the meeting of Christ with the Samaritan Woman, and the Church presents Christ as the Living Water, because, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.” (Jn. 4:13-14)

Fourth Sunday (Jn. 12:35-50) talks about Christ as the Light of the World, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (Jn. 12:46)

Fifth Sunday (Jn. 14:1-11) presents Christ as the Way, the Truth, and Life, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6)

Sixth Sunday (Jn. 16:23-33) presents Christ as the source of our peace. Our Lord forewarns of tribulations, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone…These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:32-33)

Seventh Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost (Jn. 15:26-16:15). Christ sends us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (Jn. 16:7)

May our Lord help us to enjoy the journey of the Fifty Holy Days.