CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 11 August 2018

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Third Sunday of Easter: God asks us to show him our hands

The experience of the Risen One told in this Gospel passage took place in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday. The day began with the journey of the women to the tomb and with the announcement of the resurrection (Luke 24:1-8).
 
At night, the eleven and a group of other disciples who were with them were talking of the manifestation of the Risen One that Simon and a few others had. Then the two disciples of Emmaus, almost out of breath, came and reported what had happened to them along the way and how they had recognised the Lord in the breaking of bread.
 
In this context, we can imagine the irrepressible joy when Jesus himself appeared among them (vv. 35-36).
 
We would expect the reaction John referred to us: “The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy” (John 20:20). Luke says instead that they were “amazed, frightened and upset,” believing of “seeing a ghost” and “doubts in their hearts” rose (vv. 36-38). Their reaction was inexplicable. How to reconcile joy with doubts? 
 
To them, as to us, the reality of the resurrection has appeared, at times, too good to be true. In some circumstances, they had the feeling of having to deal with ghosts.
 
Luke’s emphasis on the corporeality of the Risen One comes from a pastoral concern: the Christians he addressed to were imbued with the Greek philosophical ideas. They did not deny that, after death, he went into a new form of life, but this was reduced to survival of the spiritual component of man. The bodily resurrection was inconceivable and, when apparitions of the dead were reported, they always imagined shadows, spirits or ghosts.
 
 At this point we try to reformulate the passage’s theological message using a language more understandable to our culture.
 
The Risen One—ensures Luke—was not a ghost, but the same Jesus that the disciples had touched with their hands and with whom they had eaten. He had changed his appearance; a sublime metamorphosis that made him unrecognisable had taken place in him. He was transfigured, but it was not another person. He kept his body, his ability to manifest himself outwardly, to relate, to communicate his love, but his was a body different from ours, it was—as taught by Paul—a “spiritual” body (1 Corinthians 15:44).
 
He has a body that allows him to continue to eat and drink with us, that is, to share our hopes and delusions, our joys and sorrows. He is not out of reach, not a spirit irremediably distant and detached from our reality. Even after his return to the Father, he remains fully human, one of us.
 
He is not the only risen one; he is the first raised from the dead (Colossians 1:18). What happened to him is repeated in every disciple. At the time of death, there won’t be a split of the soul from the body (this is Greek philosophy, not a biblical concept), but the human, as a whole, will be transfigured in God’s world.
 
 Now the invitation of the Risen Lord to look at his hands and his feet is better understood (v.39). While people are identified by the face, Jesus wants to be recognised by the hands and feet. The reference is to the wounds impressed by the nails and to the cross, culmination of a life spent for love.
 
The body of Jesus conserves the signs of his total self-giving as the Resurrected One.
 
 
 ● Father Fernando Armellini
 Claretian Publications
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/3rd-sunday-of-easter-year-b-april-15-2018/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF