On the Realism of the Resurrection

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, April 15, 2018, before and after praying the midday Regina Coeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Dear Brothers and Sister, good morning!

At the center of this third Sunday of Easter is the experience of the Risen One made by His disciples, all together. This is evidenced especially by the Gospel, which introduces us once again in the Cenacle, where Jesus manifests Himself to His Apostles, addressing this greeting to them: “Peace be with you!” (Luke 24:36). It’s the greeting of the Risen Christ, who gives us peace: “Peace be with you!” It’s about interior peace, as well as that peace established in relations with people.

The episode narrated by the evangelist Luke emphasizes a lot the realism of the Resurrection. Jesus isn’t a ghost. In fact, it’s not about an apparition of Jesus’ spirit, but of His real presence with a risen body.

Jesus realizes that the Apostles are disturbed on seeing Him, that they are disconcerted because the reality of the Resurrection is inconceivable to them. They think they see a ghost, but the Risen Jesus isn’t a ghost, He is a man with body and soul. Therefore, to convince them, He says to them: “See my hands and my feet — He makes them see the wounds — that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (v. 39). And because, the Gospel also says something interesting: The joy was so great that they has within that they couldn’t believe this joy: No, it can’t be! It can’t be so!

So much joy isn’t possible! And, to convince them Jesus says to them: “Have you anything here to eat?” (v. 41). They offer him broiled fish; Jesus takes it and eats it before them, to convince them.

Jesus’ insistence on the reality of His Resurrection illumines the Christian perspective on the body: the body isn’t an obstacle or a prison of the soul. God has created the body, and man isn’t complete except in the union of body and soul. Jesus, who has overcome death and has risen in body and soul, makes us understand that we must have a positive idea of our body. It can become the occasion or instrument of sin; however, sin isn’t caused by the body, but rather by our moral weakness. The body is a stupendous gift of God, destined, in union with the soul, to express in fullness His image and likeness. Therefore, we are called to have great respect and care of our body and that of others.

Every offense or wound or violence to our neighbour’s body, is an insult to God the Creator! My thought goes, in particular, to the children, the women the elderly mistreated in body. In these persons’ flesh we find the body of Christ. Jesus, wounded, derided, slandered, humiliated, scourged crucified . . . Jesus has taught us love. A love that, in His Resurrection, has shown itself more powerful than sin and death, and He wants to rescue all those that experience in their own body the slaveries of our times.

In a world where too many times arrogance prevails against the weakest and a materialism that suffocates the spirit, today’s Gospel calls us to be persons able to look in depth, full of wonder and great joy, for having encountered the Risen Lord. It call sus to be persons that know how to receive and value the novelty of life that He sows in history, to orient it to new Heavens and a new earth. May the Virgin Mary, to whose maternal intercession we entrust ourselves with confidence, support us on this path.

ZENIT