Year B 3nd Sunday Easter: Luke 24,35-48

24:35 The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road
and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

24:36 They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them
and said to them, 'Peace be with you!'

24:37 In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost.

24:38 But he said,
'Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts stirring in your hearts?

24:39 See by my hands and my feet that it is I myself. Touch me
and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.'

24:40 And as he said this he showed them his hands and his feet.

24:41 Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, as they were dumbfounded;
so he said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?'

24:42 And they offered him a piece of grilled fish,

24:43 which he took and ate before their eyes.

24:44 Then he told them, 'This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets
and in the Psalms, was destined to be fulfilled.'

24:45 He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures,

24:46 and he said to them, 'So it is written that the Christ would suffer
and on the third day rise from the dead,

24:47 and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached
to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

24:48 You are witnesses to this.

This story comes immediately after the story of the disciples of Emmaus. Actually the ‘story’ in the first line of today’s reading refers to that event. When the two disciples of Emmaus return to tell the breaking news to their fellow disciples, they are told that Jesus had shown himself to Peter in the meantime as well. That is told just before the beginning of today’s reading. Astonishing. Peter should have been the last one to give attention to. He had denied Jesus when Jesus went through his passion. Since Peter didn’t want to know Jesus at that moment, wouldn’t it have been logical that Jesus didn’t want to know Peter for a moment..?

Luke doesn’t tell what happened during the meeting between Jesus and Peter. He leaves that to my imagination. Had Jesus gone to him with a list of rebukes? Or did he say to Peter what he is saying to his disciples today: ‘Peace be with you!’? I think the latter possibility. Would the disciples have told that Jesus had shown himself to Peter, if Jesus had approached him full of rebukes?

Jesus’ first words are ‘Peace be with you!’ The word ‘peace’ is typical for Luke. He uses it in his Gospel 13 times (Matthew 3x, Mark 1x and John 5x). We may think of the moment Jesus sent out his disciples (10:5) saying, ‘Whatever house you enter, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!"’ So Jesus practises himself what he preached.

Jesus want to make clear that he is not a ghost; so he shows his scars as proof that he is really the one who went through the suffering some days ago. Amazing, it is just by his spots of pain and suffering that we can recognize Jesus. He bears the scars of his suffering and pain with him in his glorified body. The history he went through belongs to his identity, deserves to be respected. Isn’t that consoling? Each of us may have scars and cracks in their body or their heart. So, pain should not be ignored or to be trivialized. No, pain requires respect. And to be integrated in our identity.

We remember that it was Luke who told that Jesus laid his hands upon the pain of the suffering people who were brought before him, ‘one after another’. To each of them he gave personal attention.

Thinking of that, where... on which scar..., on which pain spot in my soul or body would Jesus lay his hand?

Anything to eat
It is almost challenging how Jesus (or Luke!) makes clear that it is really Jesus, risen from the dead: now with a glorified body, but always still one of us. Not a ghost, not someone unrealistic, but rather as realistic as having a mouth, a digestive tract and a stomach. As realistic as food and drink. Didn’t he break the bread for the disciples of Emmaus as well? The glorified Jesus ‘simply’ continues to share our daily life. That is what is underlined here.

Picture Meditation

We are looking at a stained-glass window, in the church of Saint Leonard, Zoutleeuw, Belgium. Made by Auguste Stalins, 1919. The artist divides the scene into two parts. One third part on the left side is for Jesus; two thirds from the right for the disciples. The two parts are separated by a column. The connection between the two parts is made by Jesus’ left hand.

I count ten disciples. Obviously Judas doesn’t belong to them anymore. And according to the story Peter wasn’t there. The hands of the disciples are eventually more expressive than their faces. What is the expression of the various hand gestures?

Jesus is about to prove that he is not a ghost, but a real person. He shows them his hands with the scars. For me as a spectator the scars in his feet are visible as well. I have the impression that none of them looks at these scars. They are looking at his face. Jesus stretches his hands to a dish on the table.

Can I imagine being there among the disciples? What would have been my reaction?  Is there a disciple I can identify myself with?

One little, meaningful detail. As far as I can see not only Jesus, but all the disciples are pictured barefoot. In religious art that is a symbol of walking along the way of God, respectively following Jesus.

Would I have been pictured with bare feet as well?

by Fr Dries van den Akker SJ