The Grilled Fish Test

There are a couple of sentences in today’s gospel (Luke 24. 35–48) I have always liked.

Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

There is something about eating that convinces. We saw it in the Emmaus gospel of yesterday: the act of breaking bread disclosed who Jesus was to the disciples. Today he eats grilled fish to convince them that he is no mere figment of their imagination. Indeed, eating features so largely in the post-Resurrection narratives that we are clearly meant to consider its significance. It is not only an image of the abundant life of the Kingdom, it is a demonstration of the truth of the Resurrection itself and of the continuing bodyliness of Jesus.

Some scholars have argued that the Resurrection should be understood in a merely metaphorical sense, but the evangelists and the early Church believed otherwise. They affirmed the bodily resurrection of Christ in which we all share. The body of the Risen Christ is in some way different from the one with which the disciples were familiar before his death — so different that many of them had difficulty recognizing him — but it is still a body, still recognizably human, still ‘the same Jesus’.

I think that can be a great encouragement to us all. Our flesh is not something we have to try to get rid of in order to be spiritual. On the contrary, it is what we need in order to be spiritual. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good,’ sang the psalmist. During these days of Easter that is precisely what we do.

Woman’s Hour
BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour: here is the iPlayer link to the Easter Monday programme on Women and the Christian faith. Digitalnun’s contribution is about 20/21 minutes in.


4 thoughts on “The Grilled Fish Test”

  1. The Gospel was read at Holy Communion this morning.

    The Epistle was Acts 3-11-end, where the Disciples (Peter and John) had healed the Lame man in the Temple and than proclaimed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ providing the power of healing for the Lame man.

    I find the Acts in some ways a powerful testimony to the power that Jesus had sent the disciples through the Holy Spirit, which was evidenced there and than. I’m just wondering if we had that strength of faith in Jesus, would we be healing others these days?

    I know that such miracles do happen, but they seem to take some believing and the Churches are slow to proclaim them as a further witness to Jesus – it seems a shame when such witness was a powerful message in the Early church that we seem to be afraid of the ‘impossible wrought through God’s power?

    • Might one reason be that we all subscribe to the myth of ‘scientific proof’ these days? i.e. we’re unhappy with anything we cannot demonstrate in a way that would meet the criteria of our peers. The fact that ‘scientific proof’ is an elastic concept (ask Quietnun!) doesn’t help.

  2. When I was preparing for Confirmation last autumn, our priest raised this dual body-and-soul nature of Christianity with reference to the gestures one makes as a Catholic: genuflecting to the tabernacle where the blessed sacrament is kept, crossing oneself and so on. Coming from the Episcopalian tradition, I felt rather self-conscious about performing them. (Whatever is wrong with keeping your hands stiffly by your sides in church, followed by a brief handshake with the vicar on your way home to lunch?!) Realising that physicality is part of the essence of the Word made flesh, I suddenly saw how foolish I had been. These gestures of faith and reverence now bring me quiet joy.

    Re. Women’s Hour, my husband and I have just listened to it twice. Far from being lacklustre, you acquitted yourself admirably, we thought. Your response to the inevitable question about the ordination of women was particularly thought-provoking. It was a pleasure to hear you.

    • You remind me of that lovely sentence in ‘Religio Medici’ where Sir Thomas Browne talks gladly about the service of his hat and knee in worshiping God. 🙂 The physicality of Catholicism sometimes shocks people. I used to find Latin devotion to the saints quite difficult until I lived in Spain for a while and began to experience it from the inside, so to say. It was very helpful.

      Thank you for the R4 encouragement. I thought I’d let everyone down, but some brilliant editing by the producer saved the day.

Comments are closed.