Homily for the third Sunday of Easter - Year B - Lk. 24:35-48


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.


" Then he said to them, 'These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.' "




Homily:


Today's gospel reports to us two events that are distinct in time but closely linked to each other. The first is the apparition of Jesus to his disciples: this took place on Easter evening, after Jesus had appeared to the two disciples of Emmaus. The second was the Lord's preparation of the Apostles for their mission in the world: this took place a very short time before His Ascension. These two events are closely related to each other because they served to convince the disciples more fully of the extraordinary fact of the resurrection of Christ.


" They were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. "


First, Jesus presents himself to his disciples: he shows them his body, he invites them to look at him closely, and even touch him, as he would later do for Saint Thomas. The Lord Jesus wants the witnesses of his resurrection to be fully conscious of this astounding reality: eternal life - which is Christ himself - belongs not only to the immaterial and spiritual soul, but also, at the same time, to the human body, that element of the human person through which one enters into communication with others.


The body of Jesus is glorified along with his soul: the Lord wants his disciples to be deeply conscious of this, for he knows how all that we see, all that we touch, affects us profoundly, and is, for each one of us, a means that surpasses all others in its power to persuade or convince us. When we have seen something, when we have touched it, we are much more convinced of the reality of its existence and of all its properties than we would have been if we had merely heard about it.


" And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. "


This episode, in which the risen Lord eats in the company of his disciples, makes his intention even more manifest. Indeed, the risen Jesus has no need for food: his body will live forever, without fear of ever lacking anything at all. Therefore, if Jesus wanted to eat broiled fish before his disciples, it could only be to give them a sign, that of the corporeal reality of the life that is his, now and forever. Jesus wanted his Apostles to be authentic witnesses to this reality, which had been proclaimed many times in the Scriptures and which was now fully lived by Him, the Master and Lord of the entire universe!


" Then he said to them, 'These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead...' "


Our bodies will resurrect, they are called to live eternally, participating in the divine life in Christ! The Lord Jesus is the first to experience this in his whole person, he is the one who accomplished in fullness all that the Holy Scriptures had proclaimed with regard to the resurrection of the body. So, after having shown his body to his disciples, Christ, shortly before his Ascension into Heaven, explained in detail the import of the sacred writings that speak of the glorification of the body in eternal life. He who was about to enter into the glory of Heaven, with both his body and his soul, wanted to live this unique and eternal experience with his Apostles, by means of the Holy Scriptures.


This is a lesson for us: let us try to read and to meditate upon Holy Scripture in order to find in it a foretaste of Heaven, let us try to open the Door of Heaven by believing deeply in the reality of the resurrection of the body. Particularly today, now, during this Sunday Eucharistic celebration, after having read and heard today's holy gospel, let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary that we might receive the Body of her Son with a great faith, a holy hope, and a sincere charity. May this Sunday be that of our resurrection in Christ!



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