3rd Sunday of Easter-April 14, 2024

One of the most memorable moments of my trip to the Holy Land seven years ago was the visit to the Lord’s tomb in Jerusalem. It was awe inspiring to be at the place where the Lord’s dead body was laid and was risen from the dead.

In today’s gospel, Saint Luke tells us that the Lord showed the disciples his hands and his feet as well as ate baked fish, on the Risen Lord’s first appearance to the disciples. He proved that he had come back from the place of dead in terms the disciples would recognize. His hands and feet had been mercilessly pierced by the nails that secured him to the cross. He says to them, “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself”. Those wounds the disciples saw in the Lord’s glorified body, were now glorious wounds. The five grains of incense inserted into the paschal candle in the form of a cross represent the Lord’s glorious wounds.  

To help the disciples come to believe in the resurrection, the Lord encourages them not only to see his hand and his feet but also to touch them. He says to them, “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have”. Furthermore, the Lord eats a piece of a baked fish to increase the certainty of what they were witnessing. 

The disciples’ lives were changed forever by that moment. For the rest of their lives, they would go back to that splendid and crucial moment. In their reflection, they found the reason why they became the indispensable witnesses to the Lord’s resurrection and their mission. Any doubt regarding the Risen Lord’s identity disappeared permanently from their minds at that moment. And the absolute certainty of the Lord’s divinity penetrated their hearts. After that day, the disciples fully lived their mission and never stopped proclaiming that lordship of the Son of God. Never. Their own martyrdoms became the most penetrating of these proclamations.

The Acts of the Apostles and many of the books of the New Testament present us the preaching of the Lord’s disciples. The successors of the disciples continue this mission. Today we find ourselves hearing the Holy Scriptures and the continuation of the preaching about the Lord’s resurrection. We should also find ourselves sharing the good news with others.

The Church tells us again today, “He is Risen”. The Church invites us to believe in it. The Church invites us to be disciples. The question we need to ask ourselves about this piece of information is this: how does the Lord’s resurrection affect me? In other words, was the Lord’s resurrection for God’s sake or for my own sake? The answer to this question is given to us in the second part of the Lord’s message to the disciples on his first appearance. It is repeated through the disciples’ preaching: there is a need of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We are to remember that God does not perform a miracle for the sake of the sign itself but for the granting of his divine gift.

Today we hear the Risen Lord’s words anew: “See my hands and my feet.” They have mainly two meanings for us: With them, firstly, the Lord is reminding us of what the sin of the world did to him. It killed the Son of God. With these words, secondly, the Lord is telling us that thanks to his wounds the possibility for the forgiveness of sins is now open for us. I find these words of the Lord, “See my hands and my feet” so important in the Christian life. They have the power to compel us to change our sinful ways. We see his hands and his feet on the crucifix. That is one of the reasons why we have crucifixes in so many places.

We are the Lord’s disciples of today. This means that the continuation of the belief in his resurrection and the preaching about it is our responsibility. As the Lord entrusted his disciples with this essential task on Easter, he also entrusts us with it today. This is serious business. This is eternal business. The attitude of parents, for example, on the Lord’s resurrection and on the real presence and on the sacraments is consequential to their children. Let us humbly ask the Risen Lord to grant us his grace to truly believe in his resurrection and be the faithful disciples he hopes to have in us.