Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 28, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him 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 reading: The passage we have here continues the narrative we read yesterday. The disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus have returned to Jerusalem to tell their companions what it is that they have seen and heard: how they walked and talked with Jesus and how he revealed himself to them in the breaking of the bread.

There are good and wonderful Christians who live the gospel in amazing ways who have concluded that the resurrection is some kind of ordinary symbol that reflects the awakening of Jesus’ spirit in the lives of his disciples, that the resurrection has nothing to do with the body of Jesus. For these good and faithful Christians, Jesus’ body on Easter Day apparently still lay amouldering in the grave while the apostles picked themselves up off the ground, dusted themselves off, and decided to get on with it.

This gospel passage is Luke’s unambiguous response to such thoughts. Not only is the resurrection not an ordinary symbol, Luke unequivocally assures us that neither is the resurrection the apparition of a ghost.

This narrative tells us several things about the nature of the resurrection. As the disciples from Emmaus are recounting their story, Jesus unexpectedly appears in the midst of the small assembly. Yes, this account tells us that Jesus is different than he was: there is something about his resurrected person that enables him to enter rooms without walking through a door, but unlike any ordinary symbol or the appearance of a ghost, the resurrected Jesus can present his physical wounds for exploration by human hands and, like any woman or man of flesh and blood, take food into his mouth to eat.

Luke in today’s gospel reading makes an unequivocal point: the resurrection is about the body; it is about the whole person. The spirits of the first disciples certainly are revived in the resurrection of Jesus, but this and the other resurrection narratives hasten to assure us that there is something more here: something that is physical but something that also is changed and new.

Spiritual reading: Faith in the resurrection of Christ never misleads us, and hope in our own resurrection never deceives us, because God the Father both restored our Lord to life and will restore us to life too by virtue of his power. (Homily on the Gospels by Bede the Venerable)

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