Good morning, happy Thursday, and many blessings.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 24:35-48) Jesus is keen to reassure his friends that he is not a ghost, but the same one as before, though in a new state. The strongest proof of this identity are his wounds, a clear sign that ‘that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day’. Yet they are also signs that ‘repentance and the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.’ Death and life are closely linked, yet life has the last word.
Jesus tells his friends that they are to be his witnesses. He asks that of me too, and I pray to be a faithful witness of the Resurrection and of the good news about the forgiveness of sins. Like the Apostles, I can only witness what I have already experienced, and I ask for a heart open to Jesus’ presence in my life.
This scene parallels the Emmaus story of yesterday but involves the wider group of Jesus’ disciples They are trying to make sense of what is happening in their lives. Jesus becomes present among them and wishes them peace, which is his special gift. He opens their minds to understand that the Christ - himself! - had to suffer but then would rise from the dead. The truth of the Easter story hits them: ‘Jesus is back! It’s the Jesus we saw die, but he’s alive!’
When we share in the Eucharist, we meet the crucified and risen Lord just as these disciples did. We are caught up into the life of the resurrection. If we realized what is going on we too would be ‘speechless with joy’. We can ask for the gift of allowing ourselves to be surprised at the goodness of the God who never deserts us.
Christ commissions the disciples with the words “You are witnesses to this.” We too get this commission of being His witnesses, through our baptism and incorporation into the Church. If we do not take on this mission, then the world will not hear Christ’s message of reconciliation and forgiveness. Our Christian call is fourfold: to hear His word, to accept His word, to follow His word and to spread His word.
Jesus comes as consoler, with words of peace, to the fearful and doubt-filled disciples. His presence brings them peace, but “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering”.
Luke wants to affirm that the Risen Christ is not a ghost or a pure spirit. There is still a physicality about him even though his body is now transformed. Hence Luke presents the disciples as not just looking but also touching; and Jesus as not only speaking but also eating. Yet the precise nature of the risen body must remain a mystery.
Jesus comes as consoler, with words of peace, to the fearful and doubt-filled disciples. Their world had been turned upside down. They were terrified when confronted with the living presence of him whom they knew to be dead. Jesus uses many means to strengthen their fragile faith. He shows his wounds; they can touch him; he eats with them. What ways does he use with me?