Easter Thursday 2019

Last night’s rain has scattered cherry blossom on the lawn, where it lies in great drifts of creamy loveliness. The Black Mountains are hidden behind a watery greyness while the air holds a kind of electric thrill of birdsong and raindrops. On just such a day, on just such an evening in spring, surely, Jesus came and stood among his disciples and showed them his wounds. And their reaction was very like our own when we are ‘hoping against hope’ but are finally allowed to see and hear what we have been longing for — the sight of someone we love whom we never expected to see again, the sound of their voice, perhaps the touch of their hand.

I love the fact that Jesus convinces the disciples that he is no ghost by eating a piece of grilled fish. There is something so human and natural about eating and a piece of grilled fish — cold, no doubt — is about as unappetizing to the imagination as it is possible to be. It suggests to me that our Lord was indeed a young man when he died and still retained a young man’s iron constitution and boundless appetite!

Be that as it may, there is a more important point here. We tend to think that everyone should have realised who the Risen Christ was. The empty tomb, the opening of the scriptures to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, the breaking of bread, weren’t these enough to show who he was? Apparently not. The empty tomb proclaimed the Resurrection, as Peter and John allowed, but actually meeting Jesus and recognizing him was beset with difficulty. Mary had to hear the sound of his voice before she truly knew him; the disciples had to see him eat before their eyes.

We too can be dumbfounded when we meet the Lord; we too can disbelieve for joy. The problem is not so much that we have failed to see him as that we have predetermined what our meeting should be like; sometimes, alas, we miss him even as we look for him because we do not recognize the reality before us. Something there to ponder, I suggest.

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Easter Thursday by Bro Duncan PBGV

Today’s gospel (Luke 24.35–48) is one I love. Humans get lost in the wonder of it all: Jesus suddenly appearing, standing among the disciples and showing them the wounds in his hands and his feet. It is all joy and gladness, shimmering light and peaceful beauty. For us dogs it is all about eating. Jesus eats a piece of grilled fish (yum, yum) to prove he is not a ghost. I prove I’m not a ghost every chance I get, but there is clearly something special about Jesus’ eating that piece of fish, and I think I know what it is — because I’m a dog and not an intellectual, so I don’t need to get complicated about these things.

The most sacred ritual Catholics take part in is the Eucharist, and every meal they eat contains echoes or reflections of that. Bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, and God is disclosed through the act of eating and drinking. That is quite wonderful and special. The spiritual and the physical are inseparably united. Even us dogs recognize the holiness of eating, the sharing of life, and in today’s gospel we see Jesus demonstrating that fact to the disciples. Some people are so holy (sic) they think they have to get rid of the bodily in order to be spiritual, but here is the Risen Christ celebrating the holiness of the body and his own bodyliness by eating. BigSis calls it the grilled fish test. It’s one I’ll happily take any time.

Apologies to all those who don’t like a dog discussing these mysteries.

Love

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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. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rl5r0/Womans_Hour_Women_and_the_Christian_faith/Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail