My Dear People,
As he did in regard to Mary Magdalene, John provides insight into the spiritual disposition of Jesus’ disciples as they are gathered in Jerusalem. Mary came to Jesus’ tomb “while it was still dark” (20:1). The disciples are similarly gathered in the evening darkness, signifying the absence of Christ the light and their own hopelessness. Moreover, the disciples are filled with fear of the Jewish authorities who pushed Jesus’ execution, and thus the doors were locked.
During the farewell Discourse, Jesus told his disciples that they would “weep and mourn” (16:20) when he left them. He also reassured them, “I will come back to you” (14:28) and “you will see me (16:16). Now Jesus fulfills this promise: he came and stood in their midst. And he speaks the words of shalom, the eschatological reconciliation between God and his people: Peace be with you (see Isa. 52:7; 57:19). Before he departed, Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. . . Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid (14:27) The risen Jesus now gives the disciples the gift of his peace, which drives away their fear, for he incorporates them into communion with the Father. Through his cross and resurrection, Christ has “conquered the world” (16:33) and made his disciples “children of God” (1:12). There is, then, no reason for his disciples to fear.
The presence of the wounds of crucifixion on the risen Jesus’ body is significant. They indicate that the body that has been resurrected to glory is the same one that died on the cross (see Luke 24:39). Resurrection is not the return of a human being to ordinary mortal life but total transformation into a glorified mode of existence. As St. Paul wrote, the natural body is transfigured by the Holy Spirit into a glorified “spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:44). The wounds on Jesus’ resurrected body reveal that he is forever fixed in the act of love in which he died. The love and sacrifice that he offered on the cross are forever present before the Father as “expiation for our sins, and . . . for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Jesus’ wounds also signify that the victory of the resurrection comes only through the cross. Similarly the Lamb in the book of Revelation bears the wound of his slaughter by which he accomplished the work of redemption (Rev 5:6, 9). In this way, St. Thomas Aquinas, drawing on the Venerable Bede, can speak of the wounds of Jesus’ resurrected body as “trophies” of his victory.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Vincent Clemente