Much of this Sundays readings have to do with witnessing the resurrection of Jesus, and the evidence that those disciples present to their peers. In the first reading Peter exclaims “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” In these arguments that the disciples present to the skeptics I am reminded of something Pope Benedict said. He reminded people proclaiming Christ’s resurrection gave them no credibility amongst their opponents, and he mentioned that among the Jewish tradition of the day their was no expectation for a resurrection of the messiah. Benedict then goes on to say that the only reason for the Apostles to include the testimony describing the resurrection of Jesus is because they truly witnessed it. Even though their testament cast doubt, they were compelled to proclaim it.
The gospel reading again is a testament to the resurrection, and it is a testimony not unlike one presented in a court of law. In their first account they recall encountering Christ through the act of breaking bread. The second account though is told in vivid detail. Here their is an eyewitness account, their reaction, and then tactile proof. On their first encounter with the risen Christ, they express disbelief. Aware of their emotional state, their first thought is that they have seen a ghost . That thought is dismissed when Christ asks that they use their tactile senses, just as He had Thomas do. They touch his wounds. As they do the thought of a ghost disappears. That notion of a ghost or vision is discounted when Jesus asks “Give me something to eat.” Ghosts have no need for food, flesh and blood need food. That then is the strongest of evidence. Certainly no evidence can convince one who refuses to believe, but they were compelled to give their testimony no matter how unbelievable it might seem.
It would be an error to only look at proof of the resurrection while ignoring the words Christ spoke to those disciples. “Please be with you” is a defining statement of Jesus’s ministry. He reminds them of that at a time when that was furthest from their minds. Jesus did not demand vengeance, or retaliation, or war. He asked for peace.
Jesus second set of questions ask “Why are you troubled.” He asks for reasons for their disbelief. Here is a reminder that the resurrection is proof of the truth of Jesus’s gospel, of his teachings. He had told them that he would rise on the third day. They should put an end to their disbelief and believe in the gospel. This resurrection is good news indeed.
For Jesus third statement to the disciples He says “Give me something to eat.” Jesus reminds them that he is present in flesh and blood, and that bodies have needs to sustain them. They must be nourished in order to thrive and grow. This command will become “Go and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.” What is it that would nourish these disciples as they went about this task? They recognized Him in the breaking of the Bread…