Note the physicality of today’s gospel reading.
Physical features (hearts, hands, feet, mouth, eyes) abound and emotional realities are strong (peace, alarm, fright, agitation, doubt).
“They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
The stumbling point for many is that in Jesus God took on a human body, and walked and talked and ate and drank, felt human emotions and cried human tears and suffered human pain all the way to human death. But in the resurrection the journey of human life to death becomes a pilgrimage of hope through death to the life for which we are created.
In these Covid days the virtual online world often replaces meeting rooms, cafes and churches as the place of physical gathering and activity.
But it’s not the same. We know that what we are doing in front of a computer screen is not the participation that we need with others.
Christianity is physical. It is experienced and lived in people with physical bodies.
Liturgy is especially physical, we gather, we process, we stand and sit and kneel and speak. Our bodies find a home in the liturgy. While live-streamed prayers and liturgies can be helpful when we are unable to physically and personally participate in the liturgy of the church, the sacraments require physical presence.
In the days following the resurrection of Jesus His disciples came to believe because they encountered by Jesus not in a way that was wishful-thinking or imagined belief, but physical, and in ways they could not explain, a presence that was much more than physical.
Let’s turn to Jesus today begging Him to reveal Himself to us personally, intimately and physically, that we might live and witness with the confidence and courage of the first followers of the risen Jesus.