Just as Jesus came among Cleopas and the other disciple on their road to Emmaus, Jesus does so again as the pair was recounting their encounter with the risen Jesus. What Jesus does differently in this interaction is that he clarifies that he is not a ghost, that he is not a mere spirit. Jesus said to those gathered around him, “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 then requested some fish and he ate and talked with his disciples as he had done so during their time together before his crucifixion and resurrection.
We have heard about the resurrection of Jesus, maybe for years, but it is important not to get complacent with the amazing miracle that this is. Also, we need to resist the temptation to diminish in any way the significance, that Jesus was transfigured physically. Jesus was and continues to be a hypostatic union, meaning that he is one divine person, fully divine, subsisting in two natures, the human and divine.
The humanity of Jesus through his resurrection was fully actualized and transcended the limitations of the three-dimensional realm that he had experienced in his humanity before. This is how he could disappear after making himself known in the breaking of the bread and how he will come through a locked door to interact with his disciples.
The relevance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus for us is that he, in dying and conquering death, is now the reality of who we will one day be. We will be fully actualized as God has created us to be. The good news is that we do not have to wait to go to heaven for this process to begin! The path of becoming fulfilled and whole begins in this life, now, as we accept Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. Jesus in his encounter with his disciples from today’s reading from Luke continues the message he began at the beginning of his ministry, which is one of repentance and forgiveness.
When we were baptized we were born again as an integral part of the new creation given to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Through this grace, our humanity has been redeemed. Each day we are to live in humility, calling to mind our sins and repenting daily. As we do so, Jesus will forgive us, and as we receive his mercy and forgiveness we will not only be more and more conformed to him, we are to offer the same to others. Jesus suffered and died for each and every one of us, and he also seeks to live through us. Jesus is the foundation and source of our life and salvation. Jesus has come to show us that we are not in competition with God, but that his Father, our Father, seeks to be in solidarity with us.
Last evening about 6:30 I felt wiped out. I had more to do before the day was done, but I made some time to go to my chapel to pray. As I sat looking out of the window there was a line of gray and white billowing clouds. As I made the sign of the cross and said, “God come to my assistance,” the light of the sun broke through. The light washed over me and I felt the warmth fall upon my face. This was not Jesus walking through the locked door as he did with the Apostles, but it was certainly a loving embrace from him that I welcomed. As Pope Francis has said, Jesus cares more for us than anyone else.
A statement attributed to the second century Church Father, St. Irenaeus of Lyon, highlights this reality: “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.” We do not need to merely exist or survive. Instead, we are to live our life in participation with Jesus the Christ and thrive! Sometimes we just need to take a moment to sit with him to remember that. Alleluia!!!