In this week’s reading, Jesus demonstrates the reality of his risen body and uses the Scriptures to help his disciples grasp what has happened. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
35 The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.
36 They were still talking about this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ 37 In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ 40 And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. 41 Their joy was so great that they could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; 41 so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, 43 which he took and ate before their eyes.
44 Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.’ 45 He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses to this.’
Other readings: Acts 3:13-15,17-19 Psalm 4 1 John 2:1-5
Before it concludes, the Gospel of Luke gives us an account of the appearance of Jesus to the eleven in Jerusalem and his departure from them. The two disciples who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus have given their report. Nevertheless, when Jesus appears, the disciples are still slow to believe. They were not gullible individuals, easily deceived. They struggle to comprehend what they are seeing.
Jesus demonstrates the reality of his risen body. Though transformed, he appears to them in bodily form. Jesus teaches them, as he taught the two disciples on the road, that the Scriptures can help them to grasp what has happened. The writings of the Law, Prophets and Psalms have been fulfilled. Israel’s hopes and dreams of salvation have been realised. The challenge of faith invites all people to embrace a new life.
The disciples are sent out as witnesses to the world. The story of the spread of the gospel begins, and still continues today. The good news of Christ Risen must be told to all, beginning from Jerusalem and extending to the ends of the earth.
Do I realise that faith is seeking to come to know the Risen Lord more fully day by day?
Do I strive for a love and deeper understanding of the Holy Scriptures?
Let us pray that the whole Church may be renewed in this Easter season.
Let us pray for the mission of the Church to the world of today.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy