A ghost is a disembodied spirit or an apparition. Jesus is no ghost, though when he appears to his disciples they believe him to be just that. Jesus then tells them: “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” (Lk 24:39). He also then requested from them something to eat, and Jesus received and ate the baked fish he was given.
Jesus, in showing the wounds on his hands and feet, in eating of the fish, revealed to his disciples that his resurrection is a bodily one. Jesus is not disembodied, and no mere apparition or hallucination. Jesus, not merely resuscitated, has conquered death and is risen from the dead. Jesus then proceeded, as he had done with Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus, to share with those present how he is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel of Luke not only revealed himself as having risen from the dead and shared that he was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, Jesus embodied forgiveness. Though the disciples had all betrayed him, and carried the weight of shame upon their shoulders for their lack of courage, the first words Jesus spoke when he was in their midst was: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36). He did not bring up their past failures. In the showing of his wounds, the disciples were certainly reminded of what Jesus had gone through, his suffering and crucifixion. Could Jesus’ wounds and offering of peace have also been a mirror for the disciples to see their own internal wounds, their own need for healing and repentance?
All of us are wounded. We all have experienced trauma brought on by the myriad ways we have been exposed to the fallen nature of humanity. May we stop running from the fear of facing our hurts and the roots of our suffering and instead be willing to kneel before Jesus, with his hands held out to us, so that we may ponder the wounds of his hands. May we come to a deeper appreciation of the suffering he endured for us, even into his death, that we may also see in his hands a mirror that reveals to us our brokenness and our need for his healing. Then let us look up to the face of the one who conquered death, who rose again. May we resist turning away from the smile of his unconditional love, may we lose ourselves in the eyes of his acceptance, that offer us the realization that Jesus loves us in this moment as we are, and soak in the words, “Peace be with you.”
In those words of invitation, may all our fears, anxieties, and hurt melt away. May we die to our pride and arise, allowing ourselves to be embraced by Jesus, embraced by his love, and experience the foretaste of eternity. Let the healing to begin.
Pencil drawing: Kathryn J. Brown, 1982
Link for the Mass readings for the third Sunday of Easter: