Acts 3:13-15; 17- 19; 1Jn 2:1-5a; Lk 24: 35-48
Imagine this: You and your fellow villagers live on an island where rabbits are the only kind of animals anyone ever sees. One day, you are out fishing when a sudden storm moves in and carries your boat off to a far away island inhabited only by giraffes. You are amazed and stunned as you stare at these creatures. You have absoluetely no idea what they are. You are certain, however, that they aren’t rabbits!
Before you’ve really had a chance to process what you’ve seen, that same storm returns, blowing in the opposite direction (please excuse my sacrificing sound meterology for the sake of a good story!) and returning you safely to your own island. After the initial celebration, it won’t take long for you to discover you have quite a challenge on your hands: How do you describe accurately to a group of people who have not had the same experience as you what you have seen? Especially when you don’t really understand it!
Your difficulty upon returning to rabbit island gives a bit of insight into the challenge facing those first witnesses to the Resurrection. How could they describe meeting the risen Christ? Remember, the Resurrection isn’t the same as Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. As marvelous as that story is, Lazarus was returned to mortal life – the experience of life that we are familiar with; the experience we think is the “fullness” of life but is actually a limited form of existence within the SpaceTime box. Jesus transcended mortal life and in doing so became the first of our species (via the Incarnation) to truly experience the fullness of life.
“They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.” I just love this verse from Luke/Acts! Luke wants to make sure we understand that he is not telling a ghost story; that the risen Christ has not lost his body – for how could a person be truly human without body and spirit?
It’s a simple detail, but so profound. If the risen Christ didn’t have a body, how could he eat? (Any one who has ever seen “Casper, the Friendly Ghost ” knows that a ghost can’t eat! The food would just float around above the floor.)
Of course, there’ve been some wonderful changes. Living outside of the SpaceTime box is much different than being inside. Thank goodness , or most of us would have to limp through eternity trapped in bodies that have been ravaged by time. But more about the “glorified body” as St. Paul calls it when we arrive at Ascension Thursday.
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
(To read more of my thoughts on the Resurrection and other scriptural matters, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com where you can purchase my books on line. My writings are also available through www.amazon.com, among other on-line sites.)