Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter

Appearance While the Apostles were at Table by Duccio di Buoninsegna

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 John 2:1-5a
Luke 24:35-48

The scriptures are silent about so many things concerning Jesus.
We don’t know if he was short or tall, barrel-chested or wiry.
We have no clue as to the color of his eyes or hair.
Was his voice a deep bass or a gentle tenor?
We don’t know.

And yet, St. Luke takes time out to tell us what Jesus had to eat
when he appeared to the apostles in the story we just heard:
a piece of baked fish!

Actually, the detail that’s important here is not so much what Jesus ate
but the simple fact that he did eat something.

The stories of Jesus appearing to his friends after he rose from the dead
are intent on our knowing that Jesus rose, not as a spirit,
a ghost, some kind of holy hologram,
but that he rose in his body.

So it is that Jesus invites the doubting Thomas and the others
to see and touch the wounds the nails made in his hands,
to put their own hands to the wound in his side
where the centurion’s lance had pierced him.

One more detail of evidence of Jesus’ bodily resurrection

is that he eats real food
as he does here in taking the piece of baked fish.

This effort on Luke’s part may seem rather primitive
until we ask ourselves how we imagine the risen Jesus…

We know that the Spirit of the risen Christ lives within and among us,
moving sometimes as a gentle breeze
and sometimes as a strong wind.

But does the risen Jesus not have a more palpable presence among us?
Is the risen Jesus not among us in the flesh and bone
of our brothers and sisters gathered here as the Body of Christ?
Does the risen Jesus not enter my life and yours
in the person, the voice and the face
of everyone whose path crosses our own, every day of the week?
Does the risen Jesus not ask us, through the cry of the poor,
if we have something for him to eat?

It would be much easier to live a Christian life
if the risen Jesus were merely some ghost of his former self,
but he is not that.

He has hands and feet, arms and legs;
he is short and tall and of every imaginable build;
his face is male and female;
his voice is loud and soft, encouraging and demanding,
commanding, compelling and consoling.

He lives in those we love and he lives in those we don’t love.
He lives in the young and in the old and in those not yet born.

Today in this church he has hundreds of faces,
each one different and each the same because he wears them all.

Who knows how many times in the past week
did the risen Christ appear to you and me
and ask, in some way, for something to eat, something to drink,
for some gesture on our part to show that we recognize him,
that like the first disciples, we too are witnesses of his resurrection.

In a few moments we will offer bread and wine in thanksgiving
and invoke the Spirit of God on our gifts,
praying that they become the body and blood of Christ.
And we believe that in the sacrifice of this altar
we will share in supper of Jesus, risen among us.

Pray with me that our faith in the presence of Christ in this sacrament
will open our eyes and ears and hands and arms and hearts
to his presence among us in one another,
in every place we go, in everyone who asks of us,
“Have you anything for me to eat?”