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Recognizing the Risen Lord

Resurrection is Number One!  That is my topic for today. RESURRECTION IS NUMBER ONE.


Actually, that is not my topic.  That is Saint Paul’s topic.  He was fixated on telling people that Christ has been raised from the dead.  In his mind, Resurrection is Number One and all other topics pale in comparison.  He says that our faith in the Resurrection is the foundation for the rest of our faith.  First Corinthians 15: 17 “If Christ has not been raised your faith is in vain.” 


Our entire faith is based on the fact that Jesus continues to live but now in a new body…..a heavenly body….. His body has been transformed and it is hard to recognize him.  It is not easy to recognize our Risen Lord and I want to talk about people who were slow to recognize Him after he rose from the dead.


He came down from heaven and went to many different places to visit his friends.  They did not expect him to return and in each case they were slow to recognize him.  He began his post-resurrection journey by paying a visit to Mary Magdalene.  She was standing in the garden by the tomb on Easter Sunday.  She did not recognize him at first because he was now living in his glorified body.  She did not recognize him until she heard him say, “Mary.”  She did not recognize him until she heard his voice.


Later that same day Jesus was walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They did not recognize him because he was now living in his glorified body.  They did not recognize him until they saw him breaking the bread during their evening meal.  They recognized him when they remembered how he had broken the bread during the Last Supper.  And they noticed that he stayed with them even after he vanished from their sight.  He stayed with them after blessing and breaking the bread because the bread had become his body and was filled with his resurrected life.  Jesus also remained with them in the sacred scriptures which caused a burning sensation in their hearts whenever they talked about them.


One week later Jesus was visiting his disciples in the upper room and Thomas did not recognize him.  Thomas had to touch the wounds in his hands and in his side before he could say, “You are my Lord and my God.”  Thomas did not recognize him until he touched his hands and his side. 


Several weeks later Jesus went to visit his friends when they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus was standing on the shore and they did not recognize him.  They thought that he was a stranger.  But after they caught 153 fish and their net was breaking, they said, “This is a miracle and that man is Jesus.”


From these post resurrection situations we can draw this conclusion:  The Risen Lord revealed himself in four different ways: In his voice, in his touch, in the breaking of the bread and in his miracles.  And since, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, we are able to see the Risen Lord in our own day: in his voice, in his touch, in the breaking of the bread and in his miracles.


With respect to his voice, we hear him speaking to us whenever we read the Scriptures and pray with them.  Saint Augustine said, “Christ is speaking to us in the words of the Bible.”  The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says, “When we read the scriptures, Jesus himself is proclaiming the Good News to us.  Jesus is with us when read a passage from the Bible.”  Saint Gregory the Great said, “Each scripture is a letter from God and his only begotten Son.”


With respect to his touch, we can experience the Risen Lord in every person that we touch and every person who touches us.  Our Risen Savior is living inside of every person.  Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “I can touch every person in our hospital because every person is Christ to me.”  She found Him in every person whose health was fragile and broken.


With respect to the breaking of the bread, we are talking about the Holy Eucharist, the sacred meal which feeds the deepest hungers of the human heart.  The two disciples on the road to Emmaus  saw the breaking of his body in the Breaking of the Bread because of what Jesus had said at the Last Supper, “This is my body which will be given up for you.”  They saw the breaking of his body on the cross in the breaking of the bread.  They saw his offering of his life for their salvation in the breaking of the bread and they felt his presence when they received the bread which he had blessed and broken for them. 


With respect to miracles: Our church’s Constitution on Divine Revelation says that Christ is also present to us in the miracles that are happening today.  These miracles include spiritual healing, physical healing and emotional healing.  With respect to spiritual healing we see God’s all powerful love bringing people back to the faith.  With respect to physical healing, we see Jesus touching people in our very midst and giving them better health.  With respect to emotional healing, we see our Savior helping family members and friends to overcome their fears and their anxieties.


I will close by asking us to look for ways that we can recognize the Risen Lord in our lives during the Easter season.


1.     We can hear his voice, just as Mary heard his voice in the garden.  We can hear his voice when we are reading the Scriptures and praying with them.


2.     We can recognize him in the breaking of the bread at the altar.  The Holy Eucharist is called the “breaking of the bread” in the Bible. This calls to mind how the two disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread at their table in the town of Emmaus.


3.     We can make contact with Jesus in the persons around us just as Thomas did when he touched the hands and side of Christ.  


4.     And sometimes we will see miracles, just as the disciples did when their nets were filled to the breaking point.


So let’s be watchful!  Let’s be alert so that we can recognize Christ in our very midst during this holy season.  We pray now for the grace that we need to see the Risen Lord in our lives today.  

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