Resurrection Friday - LIFE OF CHRIST, by Fulton Sheen
RESURRECTION FRIDAY – Friday April 26
“The two disciples on their return to Jerusalem found the Apostles in varying degrees of unbelief… The disciples of Emmaus had seen the Resurrection first with the eyes of the mind and then with the eyes of the body. The Apostles would see it first with the eyes of the body and then with the eyes of the mind… Added to the doubts of the disciples was fear which prompted them to close the doors and to bolt them, lest the representatives of the Sanhedrin break in to arrest them on the false charge of stealing the Body. There was also a dread that possibly the people might storm, as they often did, the house of those who were unpopular.
Though the doors were shut, suddenly in the midst of them appeared the Risen Lord, greeting them with the words: “Peace be upon you.” (Luke 24:36)… Now, having brought about peace by the Blood of the Cross, He came in His own Person to bestow it. Peace is the fruit of justice. Only when the injustice of sin against God had been requited could there be an affirmation of true peace… Isaias said there was no peace to the wicked because they are at enmity with themselves, with one another, and with God.
Now the Risen Christ stood among them as the new Melchisedech, the Prince of Peace. Three times after His Resurrection, He gave the solemn benediction of peace. The first was while the Apostles were terrified and frightened; the second, after He gave proof of His Resurrection; and the third, a week later when Thomas was with them.
The Apostles believed at first that they had seen a Spirit; despite the words of the women, the testimony of the disciples of Emmaus, the empty sepulcher… His Presence, they admitted to themselves, could be accounted for in no natural way, since the doors were barred. Reproving them for their unbelief, as He did the disciples of Emmaus, He said to them: “What, are you dismayed? Whence come these surmises in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38) He showed them His hands and His feet, which had been pierced with nails on the Cross, then His side, which had been opened with a lance, saying to them: “Touch Me, and look; a Spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)
It was thus He would be recognized as One Crucified though now in glory, Prince and Lord. It was not that the cruel wounds were to be a reminder of the cruelty of men, but rather that by pain and sorrow, Redemption had been wrought. If the scars had been removed, men might have forgotten that there was a sacrifice, and that he was both Priest and Victim. His argument was that the Body that He showed them was the same that was born of the Virgin Mary, nailed to the Cross and laid in a grave by Joseph of Arimathea. But It had properties which It did not possess before.
Peter, James, and John had seen Him transfigured when His garments were whiter than snow, but the rest of the disciples had only seen Him as a Man of Sorrow This was their first gaze upon a risen and glorious Lord. These nail prints, this pierced side, these were the unmistakable scars of battle against sin and evil… He wore His wounds to prove that love was stronger than death.
If men had been left to themselves to form their own conception of the Risen Christ, they never would have represented Him with the signs and remnants of His shame and agony on earth. Had He risen with no memorials of His Passion, men might have doubted Him with the passing of time. That there might be no doubt of the sacrificial purpose of His coming, He gave them not only the Memorial of his death the night of the Last Supper, asking that it be perpetuated as long as time endured, but He also bore on His Person, as Jesus Christ, the “same yesterday, today and forever”, the Memorial of His Redemption.
But were the Apostles convinced? “Then, while they were still doubtful, and bewildered with joy, he asked them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’” (Luke 24:41) So they placed before Him a piece of meat and a honeycomb; He took these and ate in their presence, and He bade them share His meal. It was not a phantom that they were seeing. To some extent they believed in the Resurrection, and that belief gave them joy; but the joy was so great they could hardly believe it. At First they were too frightened to believe; now they were too joyful to believe. But Our Lord would not rest until He had completely satisfied their senses. Eating with them would be the strongest proof of His Resurrection… Thus he would convince them that it was the same living Body which they had seen and touched and felt; but it was at the same time a Body that was glorified. It had no wounds as signs of weakness, but rather as glorious scars of victory… Corruption would put on incorruption, the mortal would put on immortality, and death be swallowed up in life.”
(Chapter 55, pgs. 879 – 885)
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