Hands and Feet

Christ’s wounded hand: Willem Vrelant

I have already written about The Grilled Fish Test, so here’s another thought about today’s gospel (Luke 24. 35–48): the significance of Jesus’ showing his hands and feet to his disciples. We know that his hands and feet bore the wounds of the nails used during his Crucifixion, but they were somehow changed. Even Mary Magdalene had not recognized him at first because the Christ she saw after the Resurrection was subtly different from the one she had known before. There was continuity, yes, but there was also something new, something that inspired awe. The other disciples felt that, too. The evangelist says, ‘Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded.’

That wondering joy, that half-believing, half-denying questioning, is typical of all of us confronted with someone we love whom we had not expected to see again, and in this instance the hands and feet are crucial to the act of recognition. How did the Resurrection change Christ’s hands and feet? Many artists have tried to convey their idea of the change wrought in the wounds, depicting them sanitised, beautifully regular, scarcely wounds at all, or they have shown them with diamond points of light streaming from them; but none has succeded in capturing the complete transformation that had taken place.  After all, what the disciples saw, we shall never know; but just as the act of eating convinced them of the fleshly reality of the person before them, so those transfigured wounds convinced them of the reality of the forgiveness he offered — and that surely is the point. Jesus stood among them not to demonstrate the fact that he was alive but to show them that forgiveness of sin had been achieved, that his mission was accomplished. We are now reconciled to the Father and must share knowledge of that grace with the whole world. Is it any wonder that we sing, Alleluia?

Note on the iullustration
Willem Vrelant (Flemish, died 1481, active 1454 – 1481)
 Christ’s Left Hand with Wound, early 1460s, Tempera colours, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 25.6 × 17.3 cm (10 1/16 × 6 13/16 in.)
 The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

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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

Dunc xx

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