Friday, April 24, 2009

We Are Witnesses - April 26, 2009, Third Sunday of Easter

Reflections on the Readings
Third Sunday of Easter - April 26, 2009 - Year B
By Dennis Hankins

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-9
1 John 2:1-5a
Luke 24:35-48

Theme: We are Witnesses

"A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have."  (Jesus)

Have you ever been unable to believe something?  Yet there they were, listening to Cleopas and his friend describing their conversation with the resurrected Jesus.  Jesus, they said, was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.  Unbelievable!

Then, like a phantom spirit, he appears in their midst.  Not using the door, he 'stands in their midst,' and speaks peace to their questioning hearts.  Would you be troubled?  Would you have a million perplexing questions throbbing in your heart?  Isn't it tempting to believe that given the chance, your response would have been one of great faith, perceiving with clear understanding what is happening before your very eyes?  It's a temptation we must resist.

For us, this appearance of Jesus reinforces the humanity of Jesus.  "Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself."  Jesus is speaking to his disciples, inviting them to touch, to feel, to look upon the Man who was crucified but is now alive.  Alive in the flesh.  The same flesh he received from the Virgin Mary; flesh that is now transformed and incorruptible.  It was sown in weakness, but raised in power.  What was perishable, was now imperishable.  He shows them his hands and his feet.

To emphasize his humanity, he eats a piece of baked fish in front of them.  It doesn't get any more real than this.  This was vividly in Peter's mind as he preached at Cornelius' house how he and the others ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead! (Acts 10:41)  

It was 'in the days of his flesh,' when Jesus offered up himself and his prayers with loud cries and tears. (Hebrews 5:7) You see, he was like us, yet without sin.  The wounds in his hands and feet testify that he was in his flesh, wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.  For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.(Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters because he is one with us.  Christ's incarnation is his participation in humanity, so that he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call you and me brother and sister. (Hebrews 2:11)

There's not a friend like Jesus.  He who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities draws near to us as he did with those in our Gospel today.  Today we will not see him as they did.  On this Holy day we will know him in the breaking of the bread.  We will indeed eat and drink, receiving him in the bread which is his body and in the cup which is his blood.  And in our flesh we will commune with him as friend with friend, for we are witnesses of these things.  

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, You are God in the flesh.  In the days of your travail, through the veil of your flesh you reconciled us to the Father.  'O, that I may ever embrace the power and the mystery of your love for me and for the whole world.  In my life be glorified!  Amen. 

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