Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Glorified Body

The Gospel reading for today at mass is the passage immediately following the Emmaus account:

"Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, 'Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.' And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them" (Luke 24:35-43).

We move from the reference to Jesus' body in the Eucharist at Emmaus to his glorified body in Jerusalem with the Eleven. Both are Jesus' body; both are not what we typically expect bodies to look like. Jesus suddenly appears in their midst in Jerusalem, making them think they are seeing a ghost. We are not used to bodies simply showing up rather than walking into a room. He allows the disciples to touch him, and shows him that he can eat. Jesus' glorified body is similar to the natural body, but also is different. In the Gospel reading for mass on Easter Tuesday, we read the account in John where Mary Magdalene sees Jesus for the first time after the Resurrection. However, like the two disciples heading toward Emmaus, she does not recognize him (John 20:11-18). She thinks he might be the gardener. Clearly, Jesus looks different than he looked before his resurrection. But she recognizes him when he calls her name.

Both these passages are about how we recognize the risen Lord. He reveals himself to us through relationship and through the Eucharist. He calls us by name, and he gives us his body and blood. The Eucharist is the preeminent way that Jesus gave us to build up our relationship with him. And the Eucharist is the preeminent sign of our hope in our own resurrection and the glorified body to come.

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