Reflections on the Readings
April 19, 2015 - Year B
Third Sunday of Easter
It is I - Handle Me!
Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."
"Really, it's me!" Jesus exclaimed.
But they remained troubled and questions flooded their hearts. And as they continued to have joy mingled with doubt, Jesus asked for a piece of broiled fish. Right before their disbelieving eyes he ate it. "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have," Jesus explained.
His Emmaus road companions were in the room with the disciples. They were just explaining that they had seen Jesus and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. But, before that they had been slow to believe for Jesus chided them a bit saying, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
In the second reading Peter warmly embraces his brethren and says, "Now I know, brothers, that you and your leaders acted out of ignorance. But everything is as God announced it through the mouth of his prophets, that his Christ would suffer. Believe this. Repent and be converted and follow Jesus, the Messiah, so that your sins may be wiped away."
Peter demonstrates that at the heart of evangelism is the knowledge that the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all mankind. (Titus 2:11) But, sometimes we get sluggish about such things. Jesus becomes remote, and is summoned only when needed, and our spiritual temperature becomes mostly lukewarm. But if Jesus is not alive in our lives, do we dare wonder why he is ignored by the world around us?
Spiritual inertia, we see it in ourselves and we see it today in the gospel reading too. Now, the fearful disciples are cloistered in a room, hiding from the world and the events of recent days, and Jesus appears in his resurrected body, a body still marked by the signs of the crucifixion. But he is the same Jesus who walked on the water and who was transfigured before them and who stood at the mouth of Lazarus' grave and declared, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me though he were dead, yet shall he live." After Jesus breathes on them a new power, a new energy of courage and confidence and destiny explodes in them.
But, what about our own tendency to remain unchanged and unmoved in the presence of Jesus? Perhaps the words of adoration of John, the Beloved, will help us: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you." (1 John 1:1, 3) These are moving and descriptive words: heard, seen, looked upon and touched! Think prayerfully on these words the next time you receive our Lord on the altar of your hand and on your tongue.
Perhaps you will hear Jesus say, "It is I."
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com