3rd Sunday of Easter
The disciples' alarm and right is understandable. Imagine if some one you loved had died and suddenly three days later, they are there in the room with you. You would think ‘it’s a ghost’. Jesus does an obvious thing, look at me, touch me, I am flesh and blood, look I can eat. I am real.
There are also two profound teachings here, part of our Catholic faith. First we believe Jesus is truly risen. Not just a spirit, not just the ideals he preached living on in the hearts of his followers, not just a message that survives his death, but actually fully risen, body and blood. Jesus, who is God, has a body which has come back from the dead. It can be touched, it can eat. It bears the marks of the passion. ‘He showed them his hands and his feet’. The risen Jesus bears the marks of the passion because he never stops offering himself out of love for us. He is the eternal sacrifice that takes away our sins.
The second teaching is our belief in our own bodily resurrection. At the moment of our death our immortal souls are judged and go to heaven (perhaps after a purification in purgatory) or hell, but at the end of time our bodies will be raised like Jesus’ and united to our souls again. The church has always taught this. We are created as a unity of body and soul and we will spend eternity as a unity of body and soul.
Finally, perhaps Jesus is pointing to Holy Mass by eating some fish. The letters that make up fish in Greek are the first letters of the Greek words in the phrase Jesus Christ God, Son and Saviour so a fish was often used as a sign of the Eucharist in the early Church.
Mass is where we now recognize the risen Jesus and where he opens our minds to understand the scriptures and commissions us to be his witnesses. Through faith, that is through our loving response to God’s love for us, we recognize that Jesus, who is God, is present amongst us, fully risen, body and blood, and that he gives himself to us, fully, body, blood, soul, divinity, gives himself with the love of one who never stops offering himself for us. Please God, like the apostles, none of us will ever be left unchanged by this encounter.