Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gospel for Thursday in the Octave of Easter

From: Luke 24:35-48

[35] Then they (the disciples) told what had happened on the road, and how He (Jesus) was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus Appears To The Eleven And Their Companions
[36] As they were saying this, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" [37] But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [39] See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." [40] And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. [41] Andwhile they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" [42] They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, [43] and He took it and ate before them.

Jesus' Last Instructions And Leave-Taking
[44] Then He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." [45] Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things."

36-43. This appearance of the risen Jesus is reported by St. Luke and St. John (cf. John 20:19-23). St. John reports the institution of the sacrament of Penance, whereas St. Luke puts the stress on the disciples' difficulty in accepting the miracle of the Resurrection, despite the angels' testimony to the women (cf. Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-11) and despite the witness of those who had already seen the risen Lord (cf. Matthew 28:9-10; Mark 16:9-13; Luke 24:13ff; John 20:11-18).

Jesus appears all of a sudden, when the doors are closed (cf. John 20:19), which explains their surprised reaction. St. Ambrose comments that "He penetrated their closed retreat not because His nature was incorporeal, but because He had the quality of a resurrected body" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc".). "Subtility", which is one of the qualities of a glorified body, means that "the body is totally subject to the soul and ever ready to obey its wishes" "St. Pius V Catechism", I, 12, 13), with the result that it can pass through material obstacles without any difficulty.

This scene showing Christ's condescension to confirm for them the truth of His resurrection has a charm all of its own.

41-43. Although His risen body is incapable of suffering, and therefore has no need of food to nourish it, our Lord confirms His disciples' faith in His resurrection by giving them these two proofs--inviting them to touch Him and eating in their presence. "For myself, I know and believe that our Lord was in the flesh even after the Resurrection. And when He came to Peter and his companions, He said to them, `Here, feel Me and see that I am not a bodiless ghost.' They touched Him and believed, and were convinced that He was flesh and spirit [...]. Moreover, after the Resurrection, He ate and drank with them like a man of flesh and blood, though spiritually one with the Father" (St. Ignatius of Antioch, "Letter to the Christians at Smyrna", III, 1-3).

44-49. St. Matthew stresses that the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Christ, because His immediate audience were Jews, who would accept this as proof that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. St. Luke does not usually argue along these lines because He is writing for Gentiles; however, in this epilogue he does report, in a summarized way, Christ's statement to the effect that everything foretold about Him had come true. By doing so He shows the unity of Old and New Testaments and that Jesus is truly the Messiah.

46. From St. Luke's account we have seen how slow the Apostles were to grasp Jesus' prophecy of His death and resurrection (cf. 9:45; 18:34). Now that the prophecy is fulfilled Jesus reminds them that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead (cf. Acts 2:1-4).

The Cross is a mystery, in our own life as well as in Christ's: "Jesus suffers to carry out the will of the Father. And you, who also want to carry out the most holy Will of God, following the steps of the Master, can you complain if you meet suffering on your way?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 213).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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