Gospel – Luke 24:35-48
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of 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 Christ 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.”
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
Before me two books by contemporary Christian authors that speak of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances. One says they didn’t happen. The next argues they did and current psychology and anthropology support this. The New Testament presents Jesus’ transformed body as a reality. Questions arise. Jesus eats with his friends like a living person yet what kind of body has serious unhealed wounds? That may sound like juvenile speculation. But in both Luke and John Jesus’ hands and feet’ identify him. They say ’hands and feet,’ also side, the locations of wounds. Thomas wanted to see the ‘mark’ or ‘print’ of the nails. The wounds too were somehow transformed yet still there. John Calvin, who says ‘wounds,’ thought they would disappear when all the Apostles had been ‘fully convinced,’ taking the spotlight off Thomas whom he otherwise keeps on the hook. And what of the wounds from the scourging, from the crown of thorns, from the weight of the crossbeam carried to Golgotha? What exactly did people see in the room? Did all see the same thing? In Mark’s gospel Jesus appears in different form to different witnesses. [16:12 KJV] Inconveniently for those of us who feel more comfortable thinking the witnesses had an interior experience, the tone in the gospel sounds like the description of a fish dinner shared with a recognizable person. “It is I myself, handle me, and see…flesh and bones.” [Lk 24: 39 KJV] Paul held Jesus’ appearances essential for initiating the chain of witness that future belief rests on. He doesn’t linger on details of Jesus’ resurrected body, saying it is transformed beyond understanding. The commentaries are mostly equivocal, leaning toward a real but mystical experience, hard to picture. Belief in Jesus’ bodily appearance had profound meaning for future Christian doctrine. Partly upon the narrative of the appearances rests the fundamental idea that Jesus remained a complete human being. The witnesses are the first indispensible link in the tradition connecting Jesus to the future. Nowadays Google lets us all be exegetes. Alas no algorithm settles the question: what did the witnesses experience? Or this question: what infused them with the courage to leave their hiding places and preach to all the nations? Luke concludes by reviewing three parts of Jesus’ last message to them: you have witnessed these wonders that you may believe, go and tell all the nations, call them to repent. Repentance should not seem a discordant note belonging in time of penitence not one of joy. There is joy in heaven when a single sinner repents, which makes this one glad.
Brother Charles O’Connell, FSC
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Catholic University, Br. Charles earned graduate degrees from Syracuse University and NYU, and has taught at St. John’s College High School, CBA-Syracuse, Manhattan College; and La Salle Academy-NYC. Disabled by the long term effects of polio, he now resides at De La Salle Hall.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.