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 and 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 by opening the scriptures for them.
Jesus not only revealed himself as having risen from the dead and shared that he was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, he embodied forgiveness. Though the disciples had betrayed him, and carried the weight of shame upon their shoulders for their lack of courage, the first words Jesus spoke were: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36). In the showing of his wounds, the disciples were certainly reminded of what Jesus had gone through, his suffering and crucifixion. Could those wounds have also mirrored their own betrayal of him, as well as their internal wounds, as well their own need for healing and repentance? Yet, Jesus did not bring up their past failures.
All of us are wounded and 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, sin, and need for his healing.
Look up into the face of the one who conquered death, who rose again. Resist turning away from the smile that radiates his unconditional love. Lose your self in the eyes of his acceptance, that offer each and every one of us the realization that Jesus loves us in this moment just as we are, and absorb the words, “Peace be with you.” In those words of invitation, may all our fears, anxieties, and hurts 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 our healing begin.