20 April
Lk 24:35-48

[The disciples] told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then 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, the prophets, and the 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 is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

“He stood among them.”  John said (20:19) that they were huddled together, with the doors locked, for fear of the Jews; then he uses the same words as Luke: “Jesus stood among them.”  He did not have to fumble with a key, or knock loudly (which would have made them lock the door even more securely) or call out (they would not have believed).  He just stood suddenly inside the circle of their fear.  Left to ourselves we would remain imprisoned forever inside that locked door, and all efforts to bring us out would have the opposite effect.  The Risen Lord comes to meet us where we are, comes without violence, without argument or explanation, comes to liberate us into joy. 

They had so recently deserted him, but he “stood among them,” and greeted them with peace.  Everything in Luke’s account is intended to express the reality of Jesus' presence.  By eating he is demonstrating that he is not a ghost.  In John's account, Jesus shows his hands and feet to show the marks of the nails, but in Luke's account there is no mention of the wounds.  Showing them “his hands and his feet” was intended to show them his physical reality (“flesh and bones” rather than ghostly), but not necessarily the marks of crucifixion.  The idiom “flesh and bones” derives from “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” of Genesis 2:23 (Adam so describing Eve), so the reference was to equal and shared humanity. 

To say things is easy: just creating a slight disturbance in the air.  When we've said a lot of things we have the impression that we've done something, but we have only been breathing in a more complicated way.  You can say the earth is 15 billion years old, but what have you said?  You can say God made the world, but do you have any idea what you said?  A good test of whether you understand something is to get yourself to say it without words – to say it with the body.  The body is our first language.  The verbal language we speak is shadowy beside it. 

Our “flesh and bones” are material of the resurrection.  The Russian theologian, Paul Evdokimov, wrote about the ways in which matter and nature (including human nature) are represented in some forms of modern art.  We are looking, he said, at a “closed and atheistic world...a world of still life and dead matter which is no longer the substance of the resurrection.”  But the Christian faith affirms that this mortal body of ours, because Christ shared our human nature, is destined for things beyond our power to imagine. 

The Liturgy says that God "has restored the joy of our youth."  Joy is there when you put yourself fully into something.  Small children, when they laugh, are all laughter; when they cry they are all sadness.  But a little later we learn to drag ourselves along: half-way into things and no more.  Half in and half out.  If you walked like that you would resemble a person 100 years old.  We have to learn to go fully into everything we do and say and think: to die into everything.  Then we will know something about resurrection. 


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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