Second Sunday of Easter

April 7, 2024

April 7, 2024


April 7, 2024

Second Sunday of Easter

Layla A.

Layla A.



Speak, Mary, declaring
Of what you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”

This beautiful sequence, which we get to hear every day of the easter Octave before the gospel, proclaims the good news of the resurrection in the words of Mary Magdalene, apostle to the apostles, and the first to preach this Easter joy to the world.

Mary’s encounter with the Risen Christ turned her weeping to joy, and she hurried to announce to the other disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” Upon hearing these glad tidings of great joy, the disciples responded, “I doubt it!”

Now the gospels don’t tell us how Mary responded to the disciples. Does she insist they listen to her? Does she argue with them? Grow angry or frustrated with their unbelief? The gospels don’t say.

What we do know is this: that in this moment, the believing community is still a community of one, and it is left to Mary to hold in her heart both the abundance of resurrection joy and the weight of the disciples’ doubt.  

Mary shows us what it’s like to be an apostle of the Risen Christ.

In our gospel today, the disciples, unconvinced by Mary’s witness, are gathered together in fear with the doors locked, when Jesus appears in their midst. This must have scared the crap out of them, because Jesus’ first words were ones of reassurance—Peace be with you.  Hearing Jesus’ words, seeing Jesus’ body, both wounded and glorified, the disciples finally believed.

The disciples’ encounter with the Risen Christ turned their fear to joy, and they hurried to announce to another disciple, Thomas, who was not there, “We have seen the Lord!” And upon hearing these glad tidings of great joy, the disciple responds, “I doubt it!” Now they know how Mary felt!  

And again, the gospel doesn’t record how the disciples’ responded to Thomas’ doubt. Did they insist he listen to them? Did they take turns trying to convince Thomas their story was true? Did they belittle or mock him, dismissing his unbelief? Perhaps for some, their own doubt began to slowly creep back in, as it does for all of us from time to time. The gospel doesn’t say. Instead, it simply tells us that a week later, the disciples are gathered together. And Thomas is with them.

Today’s gospel shows us what it’s like to be a community of disciples of the Risen Christ.

This resurrection community is abundant enough to hold both the disciple’s resurrection joy and Thomas’ doubt. And it is in this resurrection community, that bears both the glory of faith and the wounds of doubt, that the risen Christ once again appears, offering words of peace. And it is in this community where Thomas first believes.

Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Christ turns his doubt to joy. But it also transforms his doubt into a gift for others. This resurrection community that was brave enough to hold Thomas’ doubt was also graced and blessed by the gift of Thomas’ proclamation—my Lord and my God—because here together, the disciples were holding all of these things in common: joy and hope, grief and sorrow, doubt and faith. And no one was in need. And all were blessed.

These disciples show us what it means to be church.

In the first reading for today, we hear about the community of believers in Jerusalem, where no one kept anything for themselves, but instead brought what they had and shared it with others. Some brought their abundance, while others brought their need. And they held all of these things, abundance and need, in common. And all were blessed. And these blessings began to overflow into the world around them, bearing powerful witness to the risen Christ.

How do our churches today compare to these early communities of disciples? How do we call forth the gifts in our community? Do we create space for people who look or live or love differently from us? How do we welcome, without fear or judgement, all the needs of the People of God? Do we create space for grief and doubt and woundedness? How are we blessed by the presence of those in need among us? Do we recognize Christ in them? Blessed are those who were not there at the room or tomb and yet believe through the witness of our resurrection communities.

Dear friends, we are all called to be credible witnesses of Christ in the world, announcing that “we have seen the Lord” not only through our words, but in the kinds of communities we create. We are an Easter people, a community of missionary disciples, beloved of God and witnesses to the resurrection. Ours is a church that is called to be radically inclusive. Our Easter joy is abundant enough to share with all and still have more left over. Our joy is deep enough to hold grief and sorrow and anger and doubt without fear. We are recognizable by our joy, yes, but also by our wounds, and by the Spirit within us that greets all with a word of peace.

May our communities always make space for both the joy of the resurrection and the wounds of grief and doubt, so that the living God may come into our midst, speaking a word of peace, that we may believe and, through us, all may have life.

First Reading

Acts 4:32-35


Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Second Reading

1 Jn 5:1-6


Sequence: "Victimae paschali laudes" Gospel: Jn 20:19-31
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Layla A. Karst

Layla A. Karst

Dr. Layla A. Karst is an assistant professor in the department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University where she teaches and writes at the intersection of liturgy and ecclesiology. Her recent scholarship has explored the ways that racism, sexism, and sexual abuse have impacted our liturgical celebrations and the function of lament in addressing these liturgical challenges. She is currently studying the theology and practice of lay preaching in Catholic communities and their implications for building a more synodal church.

Karst is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the North American Academy of Liturgy, and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy and she serves on the Archbishop’s Liturgical Commission in the archdiocese of Los Angeles. She holds a PhD from Emory University and an MDiv from the University of Notre Dame.


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