Homily for April 19

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Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily
“Touch me and see...”

The reason Jesus invited his friends to touch him was simple:
he wanted them to know that he had risen from the dead,
and that he was not some illusion, some ghost,
some figment of their collective imagination.
This was no “virtual Jesus”  -  not a hologram.
He wanted them to know that he was real.
“Touch me and see,” he said...

The faith of our tradition has been a “touch me and see” affair
ever since Jesus rose from the dead.
Even in the simplest of ways.
• I’ll bet the first thing you did on entering this church today
was to reach out and touch some holy water,  
and then to touch ourselves with that water,
in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
• Walking into church you found a place
and you touched one knee to the ground,
 recognizing that here, like the apostles in the gospel,
we are in the sacramental presence of the Risen Lord.
• At the beginning of Mass when I approach the altar
I touch it with a kiss,
a sign of reverence for Christ who is the altar of our salvation.
• Before the gospel we touched our forehead, mouth and breast
praying that the Gospel will touch our minds, our words and our hearts.
• Soon, we will touch each other with the sign of peace.
• We will touch the very Body and Blood of Christ in Communion,
receiving the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation
into our hands,  and into our bodies.

The celebration of all the sacraments is filled with touching.
In fact, no sacrament is celebrated without some touching.
• At baptism, we trace the sign of the cross on an infant’s forehead
and bathe the child in the waters of salvation.
• We anoint, we pour, we smear, we touch with sacred chrism
those being baptized, confirmed and ordained.
• We touch, we lay hands on those receiving
confirmation, ordination, reconciliation
and the sacrament of the sick;
• We witness the touch of joined hands
as a couple exchange their marriage vows.

Ours is a faith of touching, because we are a sacramental church
and at the heart of who we are as God’s people
stands the Risen Jesus, inviting us: Touch me and see…
At the heart of our faith stands Christ
calling us to draw near enough to him that he might touch us
- and we might touch him.
And how might we touch him?

We touch him where he is risen – in the lives of others.
• The risen Jesus call us to touch one another
with tenderness, consolation, compassion and healing.
• We’re called to touch our neighbors in supporting them,
lifting them up, mending their brokenness, bearing their burdens
and holding them secure.
• Jesus especially asks us to touch those who are deemed
the diseased, the outcast, the different, the marginalized;
and all those “untouchables,” in my life and yours,
who are on the other side of our anger, our resentment,
our selfishness and stubbornness and our grudges.
• Jesus invites us to touch the divine presence wherever it is found
in creation: in nature, in the heavens, in the earth, in the oceans,
in everything that lives and breathes.

And so the importance of that detail in today’s gospel:
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in from of them.
Ghosts don’t chew.  Ghosts don’t swallow.  Ghosts don’t eat.

The battered, wounded, crucified, pierced body of Jesus
has risen from the dead - and he lives!
Today, we, like the apostles, might still think,
might even prefer to think, that Jesus is a ghost.
It would be easier for us if he were:
it would  be a lot less messy,
not so much of all this touching every one
- because you can’t touch a ghost!

But that’s not how it happened.
He rose from the dead: body and soul.
And that’s good news for us because in it we are promised
that after we die, at the end of all time,
our souls (yours and mine) and our bodies (yours and mine)
will be reunited  --  in a way we cannot even begin imagine,
and we will know one another and love one another again,
in God, in peace and - for ever!

How will that be?  We don’t yet know.  St. Paul tells us:
 “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard
nor has it even entered the human heart
what God has ready for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)

The story of Jesus rising from the dead
and the stories of his appearing to his friends
give us a glimpse of what we’ve not yet seen or heard,
of what God has ready for those who love him.

And the Eucharist does the same.
Offering a sacrifice of praise at this altar,
we have a glimpse of the sacrifice Jesus offered on the Cross.
And in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist,
Jesus touches us with his Body and Blood.

At this table Jesus says to us,
as he did to his disciples 2,000 years ago,
Draw near… touch me and see

May the Sacrament we receive as we draw near
help us touch and see that Jesus is risen among us
and give us at least a glimpse
of what God has ready for those who love him.

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