Readings: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48
Isn’t it a compelling detail that Jesus asks the disciples for something to eat? In the Gospels, he provides the bread or fish, or even the catch of fish when there seems to be nothing. Now, raised from the dead and glorified, he takes the part of one in need and asks to be fed.
Of course, on one level, his request underlines that he’s not a disembodied apparition but a flesh-and-blood human being. At another level, Jesus has always been dependent on co-operation: a boy with a few loaves or fishes, the creatures in Sea of Galilee, the faith of people. But what an impact his request makes on these disciples! In the Acts of the Apostles, like today’s Gospel, also written by Luke, Peter tells Cornelius and his household that he is one of the witnesses of the Risen Lord, one of those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead (Acts 10, 40-41).
And so are we.
In our Eucharist, it is the Risen Lord whom we celebrate and who is the Priest as well as the Sacrifice. In a sense, as in our Gospel, he acts as one in need. What does he need? He requires the living body and voice of the presiding priest to bless and break the bread and share the cup which is our Victim and our food, our Sacrifice and our meal.
You may have noticed the rubric in the Mass, that the celebrant bows when he pronounces the words of Institution, the Consecration. This is literally the self-effacement of the particular priest. He is but the necessary stand-in for the Risen Lord, lending his voice, his hands, his consciousness to the Christ we cannot see with bodily eyes nor hear with bodily ears. It is the Risen Lord who says through the priest, This is my body…This is my blood…Do this in remembrance of me.
We have, indeed, eaten and drunk with the Lord after he rose from the dead. We are members of his Risen Body, stretching through history and around the globe, unconfined by the limits of time and space.
In our conflicted and self-defeating world, isn’t that our only true source of strength and hope? Can’t this incorporate our fears and woes into the Paschal Lamb, who gives himself as food, who conquers by his free self-sacrifice.