Second Sunday of Easter

Second Sunday of Easter

Processional Gospel: John 20:19-31

A reading from the Gospel of John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Now let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength and Redeemer


Last week we were saying…Alleluia! Christ is risen! This week we may be asking…what now? If you went to or watched church on Easter Sunday, you likely heard something along the lines of: “Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the powers of sin, death, and the devil have been defeated! We no longer have to fear, we no longer have to be captive to sin, we are set free! Death is no longer the last word!” These are the beautiful truths we hold on to as followers of Jesus.

If you’re like me though, you probably found yourself watching the news or using social media later that day after church. Through all of the scrolling we’re bombarded with stories about the ways death and injustice continue to wreak havoc throughout our world. We just proclaimed that death and evil have been defeated, and at the same time we still witness so much unjust death and so much evil. It looks like death continues to prevail. 

  • When all of the alleluias subside, what do we do with the resurrection? 
  • How do we reconcile the promise of the resurrection with a world that continues to hurt and suffer?

Thankfully, one week after we hear the joyful proclamation of Christ’s resurrection, we hear about what happened in the days following the empty tomb. It’s there, in this story we find today about the aftermath, that we find even more good news—as we wrestle with what resurrection means for us, and for the world, as Jesus shows up.


If you read this passage from John and immediately went to “Doubting Thomas,” you wouldn’t be the only one. Often, along with his disbelief, Thomas becomes the star of the show in this passage. 

People try to wrestle with whether Thomas is doubting, or lacking trust. People wonder if that’s good, bad, or none of the above. Doubts and questions are all great things to wrestle with sometimes. But if we zoom out a bit, and look at this passage within the bigger picture of the resurrection, I wonder if we’ll get a different perspective.

When we look at this passage rooted in resurrection, I think we find that these encounters with the disciples, and the risen Jesus are directly addressing the question “What now?” In John’s Gospel the disciples know that the tomb is empty, and they’ve heard Mary say “I have seen the Lord.” Now they’re locked up in a room, out of fear for what might happen to them if they were outside. They could face the same fate as Jesus if they were found out. They are afraid of what’s next, uncertain about where Jesus is, and probably have questions about what Mary saw. What now? Then Jesus appears before them, saying “Peace be with you.” Jesus brings them peace in the midst of their fear.

We aren’t sure why, but Thomas isn’t there. 

  • Maybe he was making a coffee run.
  • Maybe he really did believe that Mary had seen the risen Jesus and he was out proclaiming the good news. 

All we know is that Thomas missed seeing Jesus the first time. So, all Thomas wants is what the other disciples had: an encounter with the risen Christ. Thomas wants to see for himself what the other disciples now know, that Jesus is alive. He is adamant, saying “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and his side, I will not believe.” Jesus appears before Thomas, saying “Peace be with you,” showing Thomas the marks in his hands. Jesus showed Thomas his scars and Jesus brings Thomas peace, and shows the marks of his defeat over death, all in the midst of his yearning to know Jesus is alive.

Today we also ask ourselves the question, “Jesus is risen. What now?” 

  • We may find ourselves feeling a lot like the disciples, filled with fear and uncertainty about the future. 
  • We may feel like it’s easier to hide and shut out the world rather than be with all those who suffer. 

Today we are reminded that, through the Holy Spirit, we have received the breath of the risen Christ. This is both a breath of peace and a breath that sends us out into the world as the body of Christ.

We may also find ourselves feeling a lot like Thomas, and I think that’s because we are all Thomas. We have not seen the resurrected Jesus in bodily form appear before us. Yet that does not mean we cannot believe. Although Jesus has not appeared to us to show us the marks of his hands, there are marks of the resurrected Jesus that we can see all around us. When you see signs of hope in the midst of the world’s suffering, those are marks of resurrection.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! What now? We live as the body of Christ in the world, trusting in the promise of resurrection. We do this with all of our joy, fear, wonder, questions, disbelief, and faith in tow. And as we live as Christ’s body, living in a world that still endures death and suffering, we will see that there are still marks of the resurrection permeating all things.


This week’s Gospel tells us the familiar story of Thomas, who will always be known as Doubting Thomas, no matter what else he did or accomplished. What I love about the Gospels most is that we get to see humans interacting with the Divine, in all of our human weaknesses. Particularly in the last few weeks, we’ve seen humans betray and deny and doubt–but God can work with us.

If you were choosing a group of people most unlikely to start and spread a lasting worldwide movement, it might be these disciples. They have very little in the way of prestige, connections, wealth, networking skills, marketing smarts, or anything else you might look for if you were calling modern disciples. And yet, Jesus transformed them. This should not surprise us. The Old Testament is also full of stories of lackluster humans unlikely to succeed: mumblers and cheats, bumblers and the unwise. God can use anyone.

How does this happen? The story of Thomas gives us a vivid metaphor. When we thrust our hands into the wounds of Jesus, we’re transformed. Perhaps that metaphor is too gory for your taste, but, it speaks to the truth of our God. 

  • We have a God who wants to know us in all our messiness. 
  • We have a God who knows all our strengths and all our weaknesses, and still, this God desires closeness with us. 
  • And this God invites us to a similar intimacy. Jesus doesn’t say, “Here I am, look at me and believe.” No, Jesus offers his wounds and invites Thomas to touch him.


Jesus will spend the next several weeks eating with the disciples, breathing on them, and being with them physically one last time. Then he sends them out to transform the wounded world.

We, too, are called to lay our holy hands on the wounds of the world and to heal those wounds. It’s not enough to just declare the Good News of Easter. We are called to participate in the ongoing redemption of creation. We know creation intimately, and we know which wounds we are most capable of healing. Some of us will work on environmental issues, some of us will make sure that the poor are fed and clothed, some of us will work with criminals and the unjustly accused, and more of us will help children.

In the coming weeks, be alert to the recurring theme of the breath of Jesus and the breath of God. You have the breath of the Divine on you too. In our time of awareness of how disease spreads through breathing, it will be interesting to see how we respond to this imagery.

But God’s breath transforms creation in ways that viruses can only dream of.  God’s breath can transform us too.