Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
The first sentence of the gospel tells us that the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread.What this means is that we too are enabled to recognize Jesus every time we gather in faith and with the faith community to celebrate the Eucharist .
Initially the disciples were afraid that they were seeing a ghost. Possibly they thought it was the ghost of Jesus that was appearing to them. After all some people report having a very vivid awareness of a departed loved one at times. The disciples had as yet of course no appreciation or first hand experience of the reality of the risen life of Jesus – that lay ahead .
Jesus set about assuring them that it was really he, though different in many ways. So as in the case with doubting Thomas in last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus invites them to look at the marks of the nails in his hands and feet. Then he invites them to reach out and touch his body to satisfy themselves that it was really he , the one they knew had died about a week earlier as a result of crucifixion.
Then to dispel any remaining doubt he took up a piece of grilled fish and ate it before their eyes. We never hear of ghosts dropping in to fish and chip shops do we?
That scene of the showing of the wounds of Jesus is full of significance. Flor McCarthy SDB tells the story of a farmer`s son at a viewing for his deceased father before the funeral: what struck him most of all were the scars and scratches on his father`s joined hands – these had been picked up over a lifetime working for his family, getting his hands pierced by barbed wire mending fences and clearing away briars and bushes. He realized that it was out of love for his family that he had sustained these wounds. The marks were still there. Its the same with us. We pick up wounds and injuries along the road of life. Many of these are invisible , because the wounds are not always on the outside but the heart that has been wounded perhaps by ingratitude or malice. But in God`s plan for us these scars can become trophies also. Then we realize that Jesus is the wounded healer.
Now at last the disciples were filled with joy and no wonder. But still they could hardly believe the good news . This sounds like a genuine human reaction. If you had the job of telling someone they won 10 million dollars in the Lotto, while indeed their face might light up, their first remark might well be, ‘I can’t believe it’.
We ourselves should continue to reflect on the powerful impact the resurrection of Jesus made on his disciples. It gives us hope in the midst of uncertainty. This week marking the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, we might well ponder what a fragile hold we have on life. Many of the passengers on the Titanic had everything that money could buy. They were led to believe that they were safe and secure in an unsinkable floating palace in which they were treated like kings and queens. Lord Astor however , the richest person on board and possibly in the world at the time could not buy his own life. I lived near Cliveden House on the Thames for many years , one of the Astor mansions in England and it was like an earthly paradise.
Again we remind ourselves that because of the resurrection of Jesus death is not the end.If your best friend died at the weekend and he or she appeared before you hale and hearty on Monday morning, wouldn’t that experience radically change your perspective on life. Would you yourself be afraid of death any longer if you knew that that friend had the power to raise you up with him after your own demise? Both the first and third readings today have the punchline that the prophets had made it clear that Christ would suffer for us and as a result we would be forgiven and restored. Coming along soon afterwards, St. Paul would insist that Jesus would raise us up with himself if we die with him . So the disciples gradually came to understand that Jesus had made a solemn promise that he would indeed raise them up to new life with him.
Tadgh Tierney ocd