Friday, April 1, 2016

Second Sunday of Easter Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

Matter Matters Now

There is a detail in our Gospel reading today that is not much discussed by commentators or those who study the Bible. But it is a very important detail both for knowing more of Jesus and for knowing more of ourselves. It is mentioned twice. John the Evangelist mentions this detail at the beginning of his story of Jesus' appearance to his disciples. He repeats this detail at the second appearance with Thomas present.

This detail is that the doors of the room where the disciples hid for fear of the Jews were locked. John writes "doors", plural. Either the room had more than one door or that there was more than one door leading to that room. There was certainly a door in the first floor which would lead to the room where the disciples were.

We notice certain implications of this detail. This meant that Jesus did not open any door of the room to get inside that room. The disciples just saw that Jesus was already inside the room.

But John emphasized that Jesus had a material or physical human  body. He was not just an appearance like a ghost. Jesus showed his hands and his side to the disciples. In the second appearance Jesus told Thomas to put his finger in his wounds. In the Gospel of Luke the materiality of Jesus' body is even made clearer. Jesus invited his disciples to touch him to prove that he was not a ghost, but that he had a real body. Then Jesus took a cooked fish and ate it in their presence. In another passage of John's Gospel Jesus is described as taking bread and fish and giving these to the disciples after they caught 153 pieces of fish.

These incidents clearly described Jesus as having a material, physical body after his resurrection, the same body that he had before the resurrection but it had now an added characteristic or property because it could enter or appear in a room without passing through doors. Even if the doors were closed and locked this body could still enter that room.

A good question to ask is:  What has happened to Jesus' body? Why is it able now to enter a locked room?

The answer from the Gospels is that Jesus' body is now able to appear and disappear at Jesus' wish. In the Gospel reading for today we are not told what Jesus did immediately after he appeared and talked with his disciples in that room. But there is a story in Luke's Gospel which can tell us what Jesus did after he appeared to those disciples in that room.

In Luke's Gospel we read the story of Jesus appearing to two disciples on the way to Emmaus. During the meal after their journey Jesus blessed the bread and gave it to them. They recognized Jesus, then he vanished.

Most probably that is also what happened in our Gospel reading. After conversing with his disciples Jesus just vanished.

It is very clear then that Jesus' body after his resurrection is real, is material, is physical. It is not a ghost. But it can appear and disappear at the wish of Jesus. This fact tells us more about Jesus' body. It is no longer limited by time and space. It does not need time to get to a certain place. It can appear any time at any place by the wish of Jesus.

This body of Jesus is still matter but it has no longer the limitations of matter. It will no longer suffer pain because pain is a limitation of matter. In Jesus' body is fulfilled the description we read in the book of Revelation: " . . . there shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the former world has passed away" (21:4).

Jesus has truly become the first-born of the dead as we read in Colossians (1:18). In his letter to the Romans Paul tells us that Jesus is our first-born brother. He is our first-born brother and we are born after him.

In other words, what Jesus is now that we will be. We will also have a material body which can appear and disappear at our wish. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrance, OP, is bold enough to tell us in his writings that the seed of this glorious body is already in us by faith. Our bodies contain already the seed of that new body which we will have after our resurrection, a body no longer subject to pain, suffering or decay, but one that is full of light and glory.

That is why we can truly rejoice during this Easter season and always, because the resurrected life of Jesus is already in us, the seed of a glorious body, able to appear and disappear whenever and wherever we want. This seed is in our mortal, suffering bodies now, to be planted during our burial to blossom fully in eternity. 

Matter now matters, matter now is important because the matter in our body contains the seed of another matter, that glorious matter originally prepared by God for us but which Adam lost by his sin. Three verses before the passage we cited that Jesus is the first-born of the dead, Paul says that Jesus is the first-born of all creation. This means that the resurrected Jesus is the first matter of the new creation. The ordinary matter that we see around us now will be renewed to another form of matter, one that will have no more limitation. That wonderful world of new matter is being created through our own bodies by the resurrected life of Jesus in us. In Revelation Jesus exclaims, "See, I make all things new" (21:5). This is truly a reason for us to rejoice during this season of Easter.

As we bow our heads we pray.

Lord Jesus, thank you for this seed of another kind of body in our bodies which you won through your resurrection. Thank you for making us new, with a matter that will have no more limitations. Amen.

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