The Resurrected Christ Appearing to His Disciples, Signorelli c.1514, Institute of Arts, Detroit, USA.

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[Jesus said] “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”   Luke 24:39-41.

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Well it can never be said that the Lord was not practical. With his followers just about speechless with joy/wonder/incredulity/fascination/bewilderment, he asked for something to eat! Not that he needed it, on the other side of death, but just to prove he was real! The gospel begins with “The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” Those two were the ones making a break for it, running away to Emmaus for fear of capture and death as followers of Jesus. Clearly their encounter with the risen Lord had transformed them, and here they were, meeting the Lord for the second time. And as Jesus had done for them, he did again with the others, revealing the prophecies concerning the Messiah in Scripture down through the centuries, and how they all applied to him. Then all of them understood that he was indeed the total fulfillment of the words of the prophets, including the resurrection. Remember that all of them must have experienced a sense of despair before the Lord’s appearance. After all, they had dropped everything to follow him, only to see him crucified on Calvary. Indeed, two of them had even fled in terror. So there was extreme delight in seeing him, but, as we shall see, they were still terrified of the authorities, those who had caused the Lord’s terrible death.

And there is a strong theme in this Sunday’s readings, one of sin. The first reading says “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” The second reading says in part, “Jesus Christ [is] the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world”. And then, in the gospel, Jesus revealed all that had been prophesied about him in Scripture, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name…” 

Expiation means the removal of guilt, so that Jesus took our guilt on himself, freely and totally, so that we may be free of guilt by confessing everything to him and following his command to love God, our neighbor and ourself. There is no room for guilt in love. It is, in a sense, a cancer which can grow and consume us, unlike love, which liberates us when it is nurtured. Remember the lesson of last Sunday, with its message of Divine Mercy. That means we must be as merciful to ourselves as the Lord is! We must, in a sense, stand back, look upon our actions, see that we probably could have done better, have compassion on ourselves, and with the liberation that that brings, resolve to improve. That is even more important if we have to deal with far heavier sources of guilt, such as hurting others, and indeed hurting ourselves. Remember the Lord endured his Passion so that we could be free. To refuse freedom for ourselves, to wallow in the guilt, oppression and chains which are the result of evil actions, is to deny all that the Lord achieved for us. It is to reject his suffering for us, refusing to accept Jesus’ supreme gift of all, forgiveness, and a welcome back to the embrace of pure freedom and love, indeed life everlasting. He freely took all our sin, guilt and crushing remorse upon himself, in a sense, becoming sin himself, so that we could all be free. In conquering that absolute pit of evil and death, symbolized by his suffering on the cross, he released us, and grants us freedom to be who we truly are, God’s children. We are all called to be Christ to the world, using our God-given gifts to serve others freely, just as freely as he served us. We serve him in doing that to others, and to ourselves. 

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Freedom for Free,

Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.

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