On the third Sunday of Easter, we continue to hear Gospel accounts of Jesus’ appearances to his disciples following his Resurrection. Today’s reading, taken from the Gospel of Luke, follows immediately after the report of Jesus' appearance to his disciples on the road to Emmaus. This is the event being recounted by the disciples in the opening verse of today’s Gospel.
Even as they hear Jesus’ greeting of peace, the disciples are startled and terrified. They are uncertain about what to make of the figure before them and, quite understandably, they mistake Jesus for a ghost. Yet the figure before them is not a ghost; Jesus invites them to experience his resurrected body with their senses, to look and to touch. The figure before them is flesh and bone, still bearing the marks of crucifixion, and their fears turn to joy and amazement.
As further proof of his identity and of his resurrected body, Jesus eats with his disciples. The disciples have known Jesus best through the meals that he has shared with them. By eating with his disciples after his Resurrection, Jesus recalls all these meals, and most importantly, he recalls the Last Supper.
Luke’s report of the Last Supper and the meals that Jesus shared after his Resurrection unveil for us the significance of the Eucharist. Having shared a meal with his disciples, Jesus now uncovers for them the significance of what was written about him in the Scriptures. So, too, our celebration of the Mass is an encounter with Jesus, through the Word and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. As Jesus commissions his disciples to be witnesses to what Scriptures foretold, our celebration of the Eucharist commissions us. Like the disciples, we are sent to announce the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness of sins.