Thursday within the Octave of Easter
All this week our ‘Scripture readings have been about people experiencing the risen Christ: the women at the tomb, Mary Magdalene, Peter, the two disciples on their way to Emmaus – and the disciples in today’s gospel. And all their stories have a common thread – they are all surprised – either because they didn’t expect to see him at all – or, they didn’t expect to see him the way they did, or under the circumstances in which they encountered him.
In today’s gospel, his disciples think they’re seeing a ghost, so Jesus stretches out his hands: “Here, touch me and see.” and shows them the wounds in his hands and feet. And after he invites his frightened and incredulous friends to touch him and goes on to eat the food they give him, he opens their minds to the understanding of the Scriptures.
We can’t see Jesus, nor can we touch him – although in a sense, we can – for he has declared: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers, you do to me”. In our first reading, Peter and John experienced the power of the risen Christ when they touched someone in need – in that case, a man who was crippled.
We too can be effective witnesses to the risen Christ because we have eaten of his Body and drunk of his Blood. When we leave this chapel this morning, who knows what surprises await us. Christ may be out there waiting – in the needy stranger, in the caring friend. There is no more powerful witness we can give than to minister to him in the hungry and the thirsty, in the sick, the lonely, the broken-hearted –when we volunteer our help, our time, our talents.
Long before cell phones, the behemoth Ma Bell used to have a slogan: Reach out and touch someone. Today that someone just might be Jesus himself.
Father Damian Towey, C.P.