Today’s gospel reading for Easter Thursday is the continuation of yesterday’s account of Jesus meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 35-48). As in other appearances there is a lot of emphasis on the physicality of the resurrection; the writer is going out of his way to stress that Jesus is not a ghost. His disciples touch him, and he has something to eat. The ‘disembodied’ nature of our worship together at this time should not obscure the fact that our faith is deeply physical and materialistic, in the best use of the term. God imparts his grace in the sacraments through physical things; moreover we see physical church buildings as sacred spaces set aside for that worship. This physicality affirms the Incarnation of Christ and his physical, fleshly resurrection. If we are able to join in a livestreamed Mass we are attesting to the importance of this, even from a distance, and even if there are other ways in which we can pray and listen to the Scriptures on our homes.
In the resurrection accounts in Luke and John, the risen Jesus always greets his disciples with the words ‘Peace be with you.’ In some respects this is a message of reconciliation and forgiveness, as they, for the most part, deserted him when he was arrested. When a Catholic bishop celebrates Mass, at the beginning of the Mass, instead of saying ‘The Lord be with you’ (or one of the alternative greetings) he says ‘Peace be with you’. This joins him, as our local apostle, to the disciples of the risen Christ as in today’s gospel. So pray today for our bishops – and especially for Pope Francis, Archbishop John and Bishop Pat.
God bless and take care,