Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly risen. Those who genuinely believe in him meet him really alive in our midst. He is not a ghost.
The risen Jesus gives his disciples the greeting of peace. But just the same, his sudden appearance frightens and surprises them. They think they are seeing a ghost.
But instead of letting the disciples’ reaction disappoint him, Jesus continues to encourage them. He tells those who are fearful and doubtful: “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.”
With all this, the disciples still continue in their unbelief and daze. But the one God sent to proclaim recovery of sight to the blind does not relent. He also continues trying to open their minds. The Teacher does not leave his disciple to their unbelief and bewilderment. He does not do as did the disciple, who fled when he needed them most.
In contrast to them, yes, Jesus stays with those who are confused and upset. He asks for something to eat and eats in front of them. This and all that he does not only show he cannot be a ghost. It reveals, moreover, that the one who suffered greatly and died on the cross has risen.
That is to say, all that the Scriptures say about Jesus, the Messiah, has come to fulfillment. And without this reference to the Scriptures, would not the good news of the resurrection become a ghost or phantom news? According to St. Jerome, ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.
That is how important Scriptures are to us to know the crucified and risen Jesus. And our knowledge of Christ though the Scriptures should be first-hand, by our own experience.
To proclaim the resurrection without the passion and death is to turn the Risen One into a ghost.
According to the Scriptures, the Messiah had to suffer and so enter into his glory. The resurrection of Jesus is inseparable from his crucifixion. In fact, the exhortation we have received is to boast in nothing else but in the cross. And there is the suggestion, moreover, that we should know only Jesus Christ crucified. To omit the crucifixion, then, is to propose a ghost, a phantom Gospel, incomplete, fake.
Indeed, we should closely look at the risen Jesus’ hands and feet. Otherwise, we run the risk of preaching him as a deus ex machina.
And those who keep their gaze on Jesus’ hands and feet cannot but be compassionate towards the poor. Lacking this compassion and solidarity, we are Christians in caricature (SV.EN XII:222), ghost Christians.
Lord Jesus, feed us with your word, and with your body and blood, so that we may witness to you, not to a ghost.
15 April 2018
Third Sunday of Easter (B)
Acts 3, 13-15. 17-19; 1 Jn 2, 1-5a; Lk 24, 35-48