The Church is the daughter of the first hesitant disciples

Homiletics of the Fathers of The Island of Patmos


People can appreciate religion very much, but then they rarely come to faith. On the occasion of Easter we saw, multiply come on social, religious manifestations of the popular tradition that we call “sacred” and which play a lot on the edge of emotion and feeling, but then they really arrive at Jesus Christ and his Word?









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The Gospel of this Third Sunday of Easter tells the last appearance of the Risen Jesus, according to the narrative plan of the Gospel of Luke. We are between the scene of Emmaus and that of the ascension and Jesus shows himself to the disciples who have just listened to what two travelers told them. Here's the song:

Resurrection, work of Quirino De Ieso, 1996

"During that time, [the two disciples who had returned from Emmaus] narravano [to the Eleven and to those who were with them] what had happened along the way and how they recognized [Jesus] in breaking bread. While they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said: "Peace be with you!”. Shocked and full of fear, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he told them: “Because you are upset, and why doubts arise in your heart? Look at my hands and my feet: It's really me! Touch me and see; a ghost has no flesh and bones, as you can see that I have". By saying this, he showed them his hands and feet. But because of joy they still did not believe and were filled with amazement, he said: “You have here something to eat?”. They offered him a portion of roasted fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. Then he said: “These are the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you: all things written about me in the law of Moses must be fulfilled, in the Prophets and Psalms". Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them: “So it is written: Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and in his name conversion and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all peoples, starting from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of this "". (LC 24,35-48).

Always on the same day, "the first of the week" (LC 24,1), but this time in the evening, two disciples who have returned to Jerusalem are in the upper house (cf.. LC 22,12; MC 14,15), to tell the Eleven and the others "how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread" (LC 24,35). And here it is, suddenly, they realize that Jesus is among them and makes his voice heard. He does not address them with words of reproach for how they behaved in the hours of his passion. The fact of mentioning that there are now eleven of them and no longer twelve, as when he had chosen them, It says a lot about their state of mind. Rather, he addresses them like this: «peace to you! (Peace be with you!)»; an apparently usual greeting among Jews, but that evening, aimed at disciples deeply shaken and troubled by the events of the passion and death of Jesus, means first and foremost: "Do not be afraid!».

Things seem to be back to normal, but that's really how it is? The resurrection radically transformed Jesus, he transfigured it, made "other" in appearance, because he has now "entered into his glory" (LC 24,26) and can only be recognized by disciples through an act of faith. This act of faith, however, is difficult, tiring: the Eleven struggle to live it and put it into practice. It is no coincidence that Luke notes that the disciples were «shocked and full of fear, they think they see a spirit" (spirit they consider), in the same way that the disciples of Emmaus thought they saw a pilgrim or Magdalene a gardener. In particular, Jesus' body changed, he has now risen, glorioso. We might ask ourselves, indeed, why with such a great event as a resurrection from the dead the body of the Lord did not emerge from the repaired tomb, but you retain the evident signs of passion. Jesus questions the disciples:

«Because you are upset, and why doubts arise in your heart? Look at my hands and my feet: It's really me! Touch me and see; a spirit has no flesh and bones, as you can see that I have".

In saying this, show them your hands and feet with the signs of crucifixion. The Risen One is none other than the one who was crucified. This display by Jesus of his hands and feet pierced by the crucifixion is a gesture that according to some means that it is now possible to encounter the Lord in the suffering, in the poor and despised who suffer injustices. This is true, but it is also first and foremost a question of faith that is based on evident signs that refer to everything that Jesus was and the meaning of what he underwent: the resurrection of Jesus is not a religious myth, it's a real fact, physical.

Because of this, paradoxically, we must be grateful for the reluctance of the disciples preserved in the Gospels. Despite Jesus' words and gesture, the disciples cannot believe, despite the joyful emotion they do not reach faith. Perhaps this is not the experience that is still perpetuated in our communities? People can appreciate religion very much, but then they rarely come to faith. On the occasion of Easter we saw, multiply come on social, religious manifestations of the popular tradition that we call "sacred" and which play a lot on the edge of emotion and feeling, but then they really arrive at Jesus Christ and his Word? In what happened to the Eleven we can read the story of our communities, in which faith is lived and confessed, but disbelief also manifests itself. Yet the Risen One has great patience, for this reason he offers his community a second word and a second gesture.

He does not answer doubts – «because doubts arise in your heart?», LC 24,38 – in the way we would expect, but it is rather placed on another level, that of the meeting, e, what is even more significant, in the form of conviviality. Jesus eats with his, as he had usually done in his earthly life. On the contrary, this time he says it himself: «You have something to eat?» (LC 24,41). Such a simple gesture surprises us, everyday and normal, which Jesus accomplished many times. On the contrary, it really seems like the gesture of a beggar who asks for food and humbly searches for it when entering the house, just as the others are already at the table. With the same discretion that we saw in the Emmaus episode. Jesus, it will be said in the book of Revelation, he is the one who stands at the door and knocks: «If someone hears my voice and opens the door for me, I will come, I sup with him and he with me " (AP 3,20).

But evidently there is more. Jesus eats in front of them not because there is a cause to continue and the meal becomes, like at funerals, a way to ease the pain of separation and strengthen the memory of those who are no longer here. Jesus offers signs and makes gestures so that people believe that he is truly Risen and that his crucified body is now a living body, "a spiritual body" (1Color 15,44), that is, living in the Spirit, the Apostle Paul will say. This is why even today the Church encounters the Risen One in the Sacraments and in particular in the Eucharistic celebration.

The disciples, narrates the Gospel, they remain silent, muti, overwhelmed by the emotions of joy and fear, who together are unable to turn on the light of Easter faith. Luca will write later, at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, that Jesus "presented himself alive to his disciples... with many proofs" (At 1,3). Then Jesus, to finally make them believers he asks them to remember the words spoken while he was with them and above all how everything that had been written about him had to find fulfillment, the Messiah, in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and Psalms, that is, in the holy Scriptures of the Ancient Covenant. This hermeneutic action carried out by the Risen One that we relive every Sunday in the Eucharist is described by the words: «He opened their minds (dienoixen autôn ton noûn) to understand the Scriptures".

The verb used here (dianoígo) in the Gospels it has the meaning of "opening and communicating". Thus the ears of the deaf are opened, the mouth of the dumb (cf.. MC 7,34) and the blind eyes of the disciples of Emmaus (LC 24,31). In this circumstance he indicates the operation carried out by the Risen One who, like an exegete, helps the disciples to understand that the Scriptures spoke about him. Hadn't he perhaps conversed with Moses and Elijah about that Paschal Exodus which was to take place in Jerusalem? (LC 9,30-31)?

The Church is the daughter of those first hesitant disciples to whom Jesus immediately makes this promise: "And here, I send upon you the one whom my Father promised; but you stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high" (LC 24,49). Thanks to the gift and strength of the Spirit of the Risen One, the disciples still listen to the Scripture today, supremely in the Liturgy, which speaks of Him, they feed on Him in the Eucharist and He bears witness by inviting conversion and forgiveness which began in Jerusalem. Since that first day, Christians have not ceased to profess and then bear witness to their faith condensed in the Symbol: «He died and was buried. On the third day he was resurrected, according to the Scriptures (He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures)» (cf.. 1Color 15,3-4).

Happy Sunday everyone!

From the Hermitage, 14 April 2024



Sant'Angelo Cave in Ripe (Civitella del Tronto)



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