3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 2021

My Dear People, 

Thank you for responding to the Catholic Faith Appeal. Your effort will help us meet our goal for this year.  The letters that were sent also help us clean up and update our roster at St. James. A number of you will be returning north in the near future, and it has been a privilege having you with us at St. James. Travel safe, and, God willing, we will see you again in the Fall. 

In regards to the new COVID-regulation from the Diocese: the dispensation from attending Mass will be lifted on May 1st. All the people are encouraged to attend a Sunday/Saturday Mass. The exception is of course those whose health is compromised. In addition, the safe distance of those not of the same family is now 3 feet apart. Meanwhile, all the other safety regulations are still in place, such as sanitizing hands, wearing masks etc. 

Today we deal with another appearance of the risen Jesus taking place. Jesus stands in their midst and greets them with peace as indeed he has instructed his disciples to do when entering a house (Luke 10:05).  However, it is not merely a greeting, since Jesus is the one who brings universal peace on earth and in heaven, in particular through his death and resurrection— “we have peace with God” (Rom 5:1).

In response, they are terrified, troubled, and filled with questions, recalling the common reaction to an angelic apparition by Zechariah (Luke 112), Mary (1:29), the shepherds (2:9), and the women at the tomb (24:5). They think they are seeing a ghost—that is, a “spirit” separated from the body. After asking why they doubt, Jesus proceeds in three ways to demonstrate the reality of his bodily resurrection. Such a truth was difficult not only for the apostles but also for other early Christians to believe (see 1 Cor 15). 

First, Jesus invites the eleven and the others to use their sense of sight: Look at my hands and my feet. He then shows them his hands and his feet, so that by seeing the marks of the nails  from his crucifixion (John 20:25,27), they could affirm that he is Jesus—I myself—standing before them. Significantly, this shows the continuity between Jesus’ crucified body and his risen body. 

The second proof involves another one of the senses: touch me and see—so that they can feel that, unlike a ghost, he is made of flesh and bones. This event may stand behind a phrase in the first letter of John: “What we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life”  (1 John 1:1). 

The Response is one of Joy, yet in a sense they are still incredulous. It all seems too good to believe! Clearly, belief in Jesus’ risen body was not something contrived and then spread among a group of gullible individuals. However, their doubts help the faith of future generations of Christians. As St. Augustine says: “It was incredible, and they had to be persuaded of the truth of it, not only by their eyes but also by their hands, too, so that through the bodily senses faith might come down into the heart, and faith coming down into the hearts might be preached throughout the world, to people who neither saw nor touched and yet believed. 

Jesus thus follows up with a third demonstration of his bodily resurrection. He asked for something to eat, received from them a piece of baked fish, and ate it in their presence. Later, when witnessing the resurrection, Peter will similarly say that they “ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:41). Moreover, this meal with fish complements the Emmaus meal with bread (Luke 24:30), the two elements eaten at the feeding of the five thousand (9:13,16), to which these two meal scenes refer in various ways. Now, however, it is the apostles who act as host of the meal, a sign of their role in the early Church, when they will be the ones who celebrate the Eucharist, “in memory of” Jesus (22:19). 

Yours in Christ, 

Fr. Vincent Clemente


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