3rd Sunday of Easter - April 22, 2012

Today in the Acts of the Apostle, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter has the fortitude and strength to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus as something real.  Preaching to the Jews, Peter says, “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”  As the foundation of the Church instituted by Jesus Christ, the apostles were the primary witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus.  Without the Resurrection, our faith in Jesus Christ would be meaningless. The Resurrection opens up the door for us to trust everything else our Lord Jesus taught us.

Some modern theologians have taught that it really doesn’t matter if Jesus rose from the dead bodily or not; that what is really important is that Jesus rose spiritually in the minds and hearts of believers.  This is ridiculous and stupid.

Jesus Christ rose from the dead in His real glorified human body.  As we see in today’s Gospel, the apostles were shocked to see Jesus after His brutal death by crucifixion, so much so that they thought they were seeing a ghost.  So our Lord Jesus says to them, “Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have."  He showed them His hands and feet and then to further prove that His body was a real, living, human body, He asked them for something to eat.  “They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.”

The apostles strengthened by the Holy Spirit later had the courage to die as martyrs, because they had witnessed something entirely new that conquers death; the Resurrection of Jesus.  They had seen not just a spiritual ghostly apparition of Jesus, but had actually touched His living Flesh and seen Him eat with them.  They knew that living in Christ they no longer had to fear death, because if they died in Christ (meaning in the state of grace), they firmly believed that by the Power of Christ, they too would rise in Him.

Every Sunday we also confess this belief in the Nicene Creed, when we say “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”  We have the great hope that if we practice our Faith in a living way and die in the state of grace, our bodies will be raised up once again to be forever young, beautiful, and healthy.  Like Jesus, even our human bodies will be glorified and raised up to a higher state of being.

In the time of St. Paul, there were some early Christians who, like some modern theologians, were downplaying the resurrection of the dead.  But St. Paul responds to them in his letter to the Corinthians; “…since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.”

Paul goes on, “16 …if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.  20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”

The Resurrection of Jesus is why we believe in the resurrection of the body to come.  To realize that our actual body will be raised up to be forever young and beautiful in God’s own Life, reflecting the beauty of our living soul, should be a huge reason why we sincerely practice our faith, why we go to confession regularly, why we come to Holy Mass each Sunday and seek to receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist while in the state of grace… because we hope not for some short little earthly success story, but an eternal life in union with God... happy with God in a human body that can no longer die.  The amazing thing is that Jesus gives us His own Risen Human Body and Blood to eat, so that in coming into a real contact with His Human nature we may be filled also with His Divine Life.  Our Risen Lord Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist is the real fountain of youth!  For Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, that like you, we too may see our bodies raised up by the power of Jesus Christ and assumed into God’s own life… pray for us that our Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus may open our hearts to receive our Risen Lord in Holy Communion with new reverence, devotion, and gratitude.