The Gospel according to Luke (24:35-48)
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
When I was a junior in high school, an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking for students to apply for a part time job. Because I was interested in making some money, I paid attention. Then they identified the job was at a mortuary. After the initial surprise I thought why not. My first week was rough. Most of my shifts were by myself in a big, old building. I was afraid of encountering one of the deceased persons in one of the hallways or rooms. I must admit there were a few times when I could have sworn there was another person in the place with me even though all the other staff had left. Although I was able to adjust, I always had the fear of encountering someone from the great beyond.
So, I can relate to the fear people experienced when they encountered the risen Jesus. And Jesus knew that even though he had talked about his resurrection many times, people, even those closest to him, would be afraid. Therefore, his initial greeting seemed not just appropriate but necessary. However, this was not enough to help his disciples handle the shock. He wants to assure them that he has returned in bodily form, so he asks them to touch him. He even asks for something to eat. Although I’m sure this helped, they probably still struggled with the return of Jesus after his cruel and gruesome death.
Jesus had to help them in the form of some enlightening grace that allowed them to put all the pieces together that had been right in front of them. Jesus died and was back. He was reunited with his friends. But everything was different now. They were in the presence of the one who had been prophesied, the one who came and walked, talked, ate, lived with them as a man but there was no mistaking, he was God. What is our reaction when we are in the presence of Jesus? Whether it be in the Holy Eucharist, Holy Scripture, a loved one, a moment of prayer, or the countless other places we encounter the risen Christ, our fear is overcome by his peace given to us in the form of grace. May our encounters instill in us the trust we need to believe and share the good news that what he did is for everyone.
Action of the day:
We all love a happy ending. There is none happier than this, Christ is risen! Because of this we are all invited to the feast of redemption through the forgiveness of sins. Let go of a nagging hurt and allow forgiveness to provide you with the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding.