While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.-Luke 24:36b-48
About This Week's Prompts for Meditation
Caro cardo salutis, said one of the ancient fathers of the church with an untranslatable play on words: the flesh is the hinge of salvation. The reality beyond all the distress of sin and death is not up yonder; it has come down and dwells in the innermost reality of our flesh. - Karl Rahner
I am still struggling with the concept of the resurrection of the body. My first thought is, if, in our transfigured form, we still get to eat fish, that isn't very good for the fish. Can one be greedy and gluttonous at the Eschatological Banquet? I'm sure I'm missing the point.
The mystery: the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of life, and our personal and collective participation in those mysteries, “hinges” on the flesh. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, attend to the stranger, reveal the structures that mask injustice and challenge the institutions that perpetuate suffering. That, I'm sure, is the point.
“Handle me,” says the resurrected Jesus to the startled disciples. “See my hands and feet, that it is I myself.” If touching him does not convince them, his asking for food does. He eats, this friend who came among them eating and drinking, “a glutton and drunkard,” who changed in his body this innermost reality of our flesh.
Meditation One (introit) humus, dust, stardust
Thus the divine life comes down from heaven and is sown in a perishable body. But the divine life gradually rises up as the imperishable that it truly is. The world itself is to be wrapped in the mantle of divine praise, the presence of the life-giving Spirit. And this takes place through us, the highly conscious elements of the world, the humanity made from “humus,” from the dust of the earth, the dust of the stars, and organized into a “living being,” which is ultimately to realize itself as the “life-giving Spirit.”
The first humanity was from the earth, a humanity of dust; the second humanity is from heaven....Just as we have borne the image of the humanity of dust, we shall also bear the image of the humanity of heaven. (1Cor.15:47,49)
-Beatrice Bruteau The Easter Mysteries
For “we ourselves,” he [Paul] says “groan inwardly as we wait for the adoption of sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Our adoption as sons is our passing from human to divine consciousness, which is the destiny of all humanity. And this will come through “the redemption of our bodies.” The new consciousness is not a bodiless state; it is the transformation of our present body consciousness, which is limited by time and space, into a state of transformed body consciousness which is that of resurrection. In the resurrection Jesus passed from our present state of material being and consciousness into the final state when matter itself, and with it the human body, passes into the state of the divine being and consciousness, which is the destiny of all humanity.....Our present world is conditioned by our present mode of consciousness; only when that consciousness passes from its present dualistic mode conditioned by time and space will the new creation appear, which is the eternal reality of which our world is a mirror.
-Bede Griffiths 1906-1993 A New Vision of Reality
And he did not rise in order finally to depart from hence, not so that the travail of death which gave birth to him anew might transfer him to the life and light of God and he would leave behind him the dark bosom of the earth empty and without hope. For he rose again in his body. That means he has already begun to transform this world into himself. He has accepted the world forever. He has been born again as a child of the earth, but of the transfigured, liberated earth, the earth which in him is eternally confirmed and eternally redeemed from death and futility.
He rose, not to show that he was leaving the tomb of the earth once and for all, but in order to demonstrate that precisely that tomb of the dead - the body and the earth - has finally changed into the glorious, immeasurable house of the living God and of the God-filled soul of the Son....He rose again to reveal that through his death the life of freedom and beatitude remains established forever within the narrow limits and sorrow of the earth, in the depth of its heart.
-Karl Rahner The Great Church Year: The Best of Karl Rahner's Homilies, Sermons, and Meditations
In the incarnation he mingled himself with our being in order to make us divine through contact with his nature, after he had snatched it from death. His resurrection becomes for mortals the promise of our return to immortality. Our whole nature had to be recalled from death to life. God therefore stooped over our dead body, offering his hand (so to speak) to the poor creature lying there. He came near enough to death to make contact with our mortal remains, and by means of his own body provided human nature with the capacity for resurrection, thus by his power raising to life the whole of humanity.
-Gregory of Nyssa A Reading from a Catechetical Oration Quoted from Celebrating the Seasons: Daily Spiritual Readings for the Christian Year
Christ appearing to his disciples at the table, Duccio, 1308-11
Meditation Two (insight) our bodies
Our bodies play an enormously important role in our life in the Risen Christ. The Incarnation has given a sacramental quality to our flesh and blood, so that we can offer an unceasing prayer of the body that can begin here and never end. This prayer sanctifies not only the suffering of the body but its joys as well. The prayer of the body is preparation for the eternity when our bodies will be glorified as the risen body of Christ is glorified now.
-Caryll Houselander 1901-1954 The Risen Christ quoted from Gail Ramshaw in Treasures Old and New:Images in the Lectionary
Meditation Three (integration) shared life and mission
Both Judaism and Christianity see the body as God's good creation, and for Christians the language of the resurrection of the body praises the God who gives life to the matter of the earth. Although a literal re-creation of human-like individual bodies may await us at the end of time, the Christian faith is not focused on such a personalized future expectation. According to eschatological thought, the future is already appearing in the present. We are already now to experience in Baptism, in Eucharist, and in shared life and mission some of what the faith means by the resurrection of the body.
-Gail Ramshaw Treasures Old and New: Images in the Lectionary
The Last Word
He rose again to reveal that through his death the life of freedom and beatitude remains established forever within the narrow limits and sorrow of the earth, in the depth of its heart.
-Karl Rahner 1904-1984 The Great Church Year: The Best of Karl Rahner's Homilies, Sermons, and Meditations
“Because, as any child will tell you, ghosts don't eat!” “Because Jesus didn't eat red meat.” “Resurrecting works up a big appetite.” “Eating leftovers is virtuous.” “Because he was hungry?”
Those are the more whimsical responses to my Facebook question: “Why did Jesus eat the piece of broiled fish?”
Some pointed out that Luke wants to make sure his hearers understand the resurrection isn't some Gnostic or ethereal sleight-of-hand, that the resurrection of the body is real - emphasizing the sacredness of the physical world.
Another FB friend writes, “In Luke Jesus loves to eat--from his birth in an animal trough to symposia with all and sundry throughout the gospel--to the extent that people say of him: 'a glutton and a drunkard.' If he eats fish in the resurrection, not only will he be recognized but maybe disbelief will be overcome.” So his eating is about recognition, and the utter joy and sanctification of the act of both eating and table fellowship.
Another friend wrote “I cannot imagine heaven without the joy of taking in food, without taste, smell, aromas. I think Jesus was reassuring us that we will not have to let go of these things. In fact, eating here in this way is just a 'foretaste of the heavenly banquet.'”
So far, thinking about the resurrected Jesus eating the piece of broiled fish is nudging me toward paying attention to, no, loving sensate, material life more than I do. Awakening to the New Creation requires embracing and thoroughly loving the creation at hand.