By Fr. Tim Kroh on Third Sunday of Easter:
In the Name ✠ of the Crucified and Risen Savior. Amen.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ “
On the surface of this text, it seems like St. Luke is trying really hard to prove to us that the resurrection of Christ was real. He had a real body. He kept eating. He was hungry. You could touch him. So we can see in this seafood snack another assertion of the reality of Christ’s resurrection.
But there’s so much more here for us as well.
In the resurrection, Christ doesn’t do away with his old human body. He retains his body. It’s a glorified body, but it is the same body. He shows his scars to St. Thomas, in that window, over there. It eats fish. It’s hungry. The resurrected Christ was an embodied Christ, and that has so many implications for us, as we try to seek after a theology of the human body.
The redemption of humankind in Christ “hinges” on the flesh. God becomes human. This Christ, the Word-made-flesh, teaches us this: Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, attend to the stranger, bring in those who have been cast out. Christ bids us to attend to all of these souls and bodies, much as he attends to us, like a shepherd.
If we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is truly the Christ of God, then we have to think about all the implications of this embodied Saviour.
If God takes on a body, then all bodies are hallowed and holy, not fallen or inherently bad, but gifts from God which God makes even holier through Christ.
If God takes on a body, then all human bodies are equally hallowed and worthy of dignity. We should recognize Christ present in the bodies of all other human beings. We should discern Christ in them. We should discern Christ in the bodies of our sisters and brothers who are homeless. We should discern Christ in the bodies of people of all ages, skin colors, gender expressions. The implication of our collective sins, which we all know too well: racism, sexism, ageism, et cetera, is that all bodies and souls—for there is no real separation between the two, is there? All bodies and souls are places where the Risen Christ dwells.
So we see and discern the Risen Christ in the bodies of every human being. In the bodies of Trayvon Martin, Philando Castille, and Alton Sterling, and in the bodies of all those who serve as police and first responders. We should discern the Risen Christ in the bodies of those who live with Alzheimer’s; those who, because of their differing abilities, can not yet enter this sacred place to join us in prayer and fellowship, not yet.
God has a body – that of the Risen Christ – and now, now that that sacred body has ascended to the right hand of God to take his place in heaven, the body of Christ is still on earth, but in the form of each one of you, who have died with Christ in your baptisms and share in his resurrection. And also, don’t forget, that you are what you eat.
So if we should discern Christ in all these bodies, then of course we must discern Christ in our own body. We should learn to love God’s unique gift to us. It’s easy, though, to not love our bodies and to wish they were different. Pierre can attest to that when I was too short to light the Paschal candle earlier today. But this is the body God gave me, and I ought to love it and thank him for it. Think about the billions of dollars that are spent in the name of body hatred. Advertising tells us our bodies are wrong, and then provides us with a convenient solution, for a price. Body-shaming is a relatively new term for a very well established practice. By definition, body shaming is the action or practice of humiliating someone because of their body – anything to do with it. We are meant to repent of the sin of body shaming, and also stop body shaming ourselves, because Christ dwells in all of us. We recognize this in our baptism, and especially the final two vows: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” Body shaming is obviously counter to each of those vows, and counter to Christian practice, and we ought to make every effort to do away with it, in our own lives, and the lives of others.
The redemption of humankind in Christ “hinges” on the flesh-ours and Christ’s. Why should we be surprised?
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” St. John reminds us of that in the Epistle: that we are God’s children. What a joy! And he continues: “What we do know is this: that when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” We will be like him. Apparently, as it is in this life, so it is wonderfully in the resurrection: We need something to eat, something to sustain us, something to nourish us. And guess what: so does the Risen Christ. He’s still hungry. Jesus is hungry. What is he hungry for? He is hungry for the true food of his kingdom: love, repentance, justice, forgiveness, peace, the end of all oppression, and the true recognition of the dignity of every human being. That’s what Christ is hungry for. Let us feed him with this true food. Amen