Each Sunday in the Paschal Season is devoted to a particular theme.
The broad theme of the Paschal season is water.
On Bright Monday, for example, it is traditional for Orthodox women to ‘sprinkle’ the men (especially the priest) with holy water. On Bright Tuesday, the men sprinkle the women.
Bright Friday is devoted to the icon of the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring. This is dedicated to the miracles our Lord has shown, and continues to show, flowing from a fountain in a Church dedicated to the Theotokos. See more in the Feasts of Faith insert. This also recalls the miracles that will be commemorated for the rest of the Paschal season.
Theme: Christ the Source of Living Water
Thomas Sunday calls to mind the doubting of the holy Apostle Thomas, and how that his faith was confirmed in the Risen Christ! He does so, and exclaims “My Lord and My God.” Thomas reaches into the true source of Living Water, the crucified and Risen Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ Himself. It is also called Antipascha (opposite, or at the other end of, Pascha, i.e. the other end of Bright Week).
This day in the early Church was the day that the newly-baptized Christians removed their robes and entered into the life of this world.
Theme: Tears of Sorrow transformed into Tears of Joy
2nd Sunday Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers commemorates the mercy of the Myrrhbearing woman and Nicodemus and the noble Joseph of Arimathea, and how their tears of sorrow were transformed into tears of joy, in witness of the Resurrection of Christ.
There are eight women who are generally identified as the myrrh-bearers. The eight are Mary Magdalene, Mary, the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary), Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas (or Alphaeus), Susanna, Mary of Bethany, and Martha of Bethany.
Sunday of the Paralytic
Theme: Christ the Source of Living Waters, True Healing
After that, the Sunday of the Paralytic, Jesus heals the paralytic who laid by the Sheep’s Pool in Jerusalem for thirty-eight years, waiting for someone to put him into the pool. The first one to enter the pool after an angel troubled the water would be healed of his infirmities, but someone always entered the pool before him. Christ is the Source of all healing, the Spring of Living Water. The Church reminds the faithful that through baptism in the church we, too, are healed and saved by Christ for eternal life. Thus, in the church, we are told, together with the paralytic, to sin no more that nothing worse befall you” (John 5:14).
Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
Theme: Christ the Source of Living Waters, New Life
The 4th Sunday of Pascha is the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, and deals with St. Photini with whom Christ spoke at Jacob’s Well from the Gospel of St John. Again the theme is the “living water” and the recognition of Jesus as God’s Messiah. She goes forward to proclaim Christ to the Samaritans who acknowledge Christ as the Savior of the World! Powerful witness from a sinner who was illumined (Photini means ’light’) by meeting the Source of Living Water. This is a reminder of new life in Christ, of drinking of the “living water,” of true worship of God in the Christian messianic age “in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4:23-24). Salvation is offered to all: Jews and Gentiles, men and women, saints and sinners.
Sunday of the Blind Man
Theme: The Source of Living Waters, Living Illumination
Finally, on the 5th Sunday, the Sunday of the Blind Man, Jesus takes dirt and spittle and gives sight to a man born blind, after he washes in the pool of Siloam (which means ‘sent’). Jesus takes clay and water to heal this man born blind. He is then immediately sent to wash in the pool, and receives his sight. There is a pattern which we see every week. After the experience of Christ as the fountain of Living Water (the Holy Spirit, that is) we are reminded, like the Apostles, not to try and spread the Word until clothed with power from on high, but having received the Holy Spirit, we must, like them, spread the good news, the Gospel, and give our testimony before all men and all nations. We have a testimony to give. God has given us eternal life, and freedom from the bondage of our passions.