Have you ever wondered what the Resurrection of the body will be like? What will we look like? How will we appear to others? What kind of marks or features will our bodies have? Will we have flesh and bones? Well…these questions are sort of answered in today’s Gospel account of the Resurrection.
After the disciples realize the man they have been journeying with is Jesus, made known through the breaking of the bread, Jesus disappears. Then, at some point later, he returns. This time he really shows himself. Jesus has bones and flesh. They can touch him and Jesus can eat things. He is not a ghost. These details are really important for us. The Resurrection of the body does not imply that we will be spiritual beings like the angels who neither have a body nor much of a physical form. Instead we will have bodies with flesh and bones and able to do the things we do now. We will not be some transcendent being that has no bearing to our current earthly existence. Instead we will be able to eat and drink as Jesus did. Lastly, we will have some marks that bear what happened in this life. Jesus has the marks of his Crucifixion. These marks represent the important event that signaled the new life to come and showed his mission. We can assume from Jesus’ example that we too will bear the marks of our own mission and the specific ways that we served God in this life in the life to come.
The physical form of Jesus is not the only important part of this passage. Jesus gives us several clues to help us realize his Resurrection and recognize him when he comes. The most notable, following from yesterday’s Gospel, is the breaking of the bread. The disciples recognized Jesus during the breaking of the bread and not from his presence, visible presence, or proclamation of the Scriptures. We too should attune our hearts and minds to recognize Jesus present in the bread and wine. The second clue is the words that he speaks: “Peace be with you.” Jesus only speaks these words after he has risen from the dead. These words echo and dispense forgiveness to his disciples. We hear similar words in the Mass: “The Lord be with you.” Or if a bishop is presiding: “Peace be with you.” The Resurrection gives to the world forgiveness of all their sins and therefore we should recognize the risen Lord whenever we experience the forgiveness of sins. The third way to recognize Jesus is in the Scriptures. The passages from the Old Testament declare Jesus as the Messiah and God and the New Testament clarifies what the Old Testament proclaims. How well do we know the Bible so as to recognize the signs that proclaim the Messiah? The final way is through Jesus’ wounds. If we ever encounter an apparition of Jesus, or Jesus appears to us, we should always be looking for the marks of the Crucifixion. Many saints have experienced apparitions of Jesus that were not Jesus but the devil appearing as Jesus. But the devil can never appear with Jesus’ wounds; they are specific to Jesus.
We are the witnesses of these things. We have heard the Word proclaimed and experienced the Resurrection in our own lives. Luke is making this point clear. Jesus has come to meet us and show himself to us, are we aware of Jesus’ presence among us?