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The Second Sunday of Eastertide

Quasimodo Geniti

Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord's resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.



An Overview

After our Lord was transfigured, we continued the long walk down the mountain of Glory, through the mud of Ash Wednesday, into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, and after much travel, eventually arriving at Holy Week. The narrative of the Church Year doesn't "end" at the crucifixion of resurrection of Jesus. One week after the Lord rose from the tomb, we gather with the apostles to see what's going to happen next.


Thomas, sadly, has earned the title "Doubting" throughout history. As you read or re-read this familiar Gospel account, ask why Thomas was so insistent that he needed to see the body of Christ. Was he doubting? Or was he demanding that God fulfill His promises? When taken in its liturgical context and read alongside Ezekiel 37 and 1 John 5, the account of Thomas on the Eighty Day of Easter gives us a beautiful example of faith, hearing, and trust in what God has said.

The Sundays in Easter (like the Sundays in Lent) are named after the opening words of the Introit from when the Church spoke Latin. Quasi (just like) modo (in the mode of) geniti (those who have been recently generated; i.e. babies), are the opening words of our worship on this day that force us to remember that we are not to investigate the mysteries of God like a detective, but rather to yearn for the Word of God in the same way that newborns yearn for milk.

Artwork: The Incredulity of Thomas, Caravaggio (born Michelangelo Merisi). Italian, 1601. Currently hanging at the Sanssouci in Potsdam.
and the Canaanite Woman, Pietro del Pò. Italian, 17th century. From the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


The Old Testament

Ezekiel 37:1-14

  • "Familiarity breeds contempt," and so it is with Bible Stories. Even if you think you "know this one," force yourself to read it slowly, spending time on each word to see what you may have missed in the past.

  • Ezekiel is called "Son of Man" which here likely means "mortal." Contrast this with Jesus claiming the title "Son of Man" You can read some more on the title and its occurrences here 

  • bone + sinews + skin + breath = living human being

  • Don't neglect verses 11-14 where we see the actual meaning of why Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy over the bones: it is a direct prophecy about the resurrection of the dead at the end of all things and (per verse 7) a foreshadowing of Christ's death.

Translation Notes

  • Whereas LORD is a rendering of the Hebrew יהוה, when you see Lord GOD in the ESV, it's a rendering of the Hebrew        אָדֹנָי יהוה which would literally translate "lord YHWH"

  • v. 7: "rattling could mean earthquake. Greek OT reads "earthquake." This is not insignificant, as there was a "great earthquake" when Jesus died and many of the saints came out of their graves (Matthew 27:51-53).

  • v 8: "breath" in Hebrew is the same word for "spirit." ru-ACH. Same in Greek OT: pneuma can mean breath or wind or spirit. This is where we get words like "pneumatic."

The Epistle

1 John 5:4-10

  • This is a hotly contested passage of the Bible. Many early Church Fathers taught that this was one of the proofs of the Trinity (verse 7: three that testify). though there are many variants in the way this has been copied down over the centuries. While most "errors" in copies of the Bible are due to typos or sleepy scribes, it is possible that this is an example of enemies of the Gospel trying to change the text of the Bible itself, and then other scribes trying to "restore" the original meaning, albeit in slightly different words (for instance, read 1 John 5:7-8 in the King James). It is my (Pastor Benson) opinion that verses 7 and 8 as we have them are original to the text, and I take great comfort in the fact that even if I'm wrong, there are hundreds of other passages in Holy Scripture that teach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It's also worth noting that the Holy Spirit may have anticipated this controversy when He inspired John to pen this letter: in verse 9 we are reminded that the testimony of God is greater than the testimony of man.

  • Historical arguments aside, the theology here is quite clear: the water bears witness about the victory of Christ (John 19:34-35 make it clear that John is a witness to this and claims its to be truth), the blood bears witness about the victory of Christ (both in the bloody death of Christ and the bloody drink of the Eucharist), the Spirit bears witness about the victory of Christ, namely that "these things are written that you may believe, and by believing you may have life in His name," (John 20:31). There is no contradiction in any of these three witnesses.

Translation Notes

  • v. 4-5: The words "overcome" are various forms of the Greek νικη (ni-kay) which means "victory." This the origin of the brand Nike. 

  • Anytime you see the word "witness" or "testify" in the New Testament, it is likely a translation of the Greek μαρτυροῦν (mar-tou-ROUN) which is the root of our word "martyr." A martyr is someone who bears witness or testifies to the truth of Christ.

The Holy Gospel

John 20:19-31

  • The first word that Christ spoke to Mary Magdalene on Easter was "why are you weeping?" The first word He speaks to the disciples on Easter is "Peace."

  • v. 20: The disciples believe because they have seen His wounds

  • v. 22-23: These words are repeated at the ordination of a Pastor. This is also the reason why we yet practice individual confession and absolution - Pastors are commanded to forgive sins to those who repent, and withhold forgiveness from those who do not repent.

  • v. 25: Thomas has only known the bodily presence of the Lord during these three years of public ministry. Why would he simply trust the report of others, when he knows that the Lord has a body?

  • v. 28: For centuries, Christians have turned Thomas's words into a prayer. When the pastor says "take, eat, this is my body . . . this do in remembrance of me," he will pause. All gathered are welcome to quietly pray "My Lord and my God," since they are now - like Thomas - looking at the body of Christ, though hidden in bread. The prayer is repeated after "this cup is the new testament . . . this do as often as you drink it in remembrance of me."

  • v. 29: This is not necessarily a word of condemnation from Jesus, but rather a promise to those who will come after Jesus has ascended to heaven that they do not need to see the body of Christ in order to be counted as blessèd. This point is reiterated in verse 31.

Translation Notes

  • v. 27: though we translate the words as verbs, they are actually adjectives. Literally "Stop being an an unbeliever, and rather be a believer."

  • v. 29: we should read blessed as blessèd since this is the same Greek word used in the sermon on the mount. This is not a blessing, but rather a "happiness."

Poetry Used in the Liturgy of Quasimodo Geniti

  • 1 Peter 2:2- Though this is not, properly speaking, poetry, the Church has set St. Peter's words to song so that we would remember that we ought to yearn for the Word of God. After we have prayed "My Lord and my God" with Thomas, we can literally "taste" and "see" that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:3; cf. Psalm 34:7-9)

  • Psalm 81- One of Asaph's Psalms that was appropriate at Passover (81:3 "new moon, full moon, feast day") and is now appropriate during the joyful "new" Passover of Easter. The entire Psalm recalls the entire salvation of Israel out of the hands of Egypt, and we should not shy away from seeing Holy Week and Easter as our freedom from slavery to the Pharaoh of the Devil and the Egypt of Sin.

  • Psalm 33- A beautiful Psalm of praise. We remember that the Lord blesses His people and defeats His enemies.

  • Alleluia Verse- This week, the verse before the Gospel Reading is not a portion of the Psalm, but snippets of the Resurrection accounts from Matthew 28 and John 20.

  • "These things did Thomas Count as Real," by Thomas H. Troeger. A Presbyterian-turned-Episcopalian Priest, Troeger's poetry in this hymn captures well the modern idea that mind is greater than faith. In stanzas two and three we sing of Thomas

The vision of his skeptic mind

was keen enough to make him blind

to any unexpected act

too large for his small world of fact

His reasoned certainties denied

that one could live when one had died,

until his fingers read like braille

the markings of the spear and nail

Artwork: The Vision of Ezekiel; a group of corpses and skeletons emerging out of tombs, above them five winged putti holding a banderole, Giorgio Ghisi. Italian, after 1554. Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Further Reading & Listening



Artwork: 1 John 5:1 by Eyes of Life. The artist's Free Art Gallery and short essay can be found here.

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