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  • Fr Daniel

The Third Sunday of Easter

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The Prayers/Readings can be found here:

Easter 3B Sheet
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He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’

Alleluia Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed, alleluia!

‘The message of Easter is kindness, compassion, hard work and responsibility’.

That statement was made in 2015 by somebody who has been in hot water this week, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Let me state categorically: David Cameron was wrong – Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Mr Cameron surely missed the point, for I bet if you were to knock on pretty much every door in Anfield, doors of Christians, atheists, and those of other faiths, you would find people sharing his sentiment, yes, hard work, compassion and kindness are important, without a doubt. But they do not make Easter, they do not, summarise the essential doctrine of the Christian faith – that Christ who was dead is now alive,and alive in the flesh.

Last week we heard about the evidence for the resurrection, now we think about the implications. What does the resurrection mean for us? How does it affect us?

Over the last fifty years it became popular to try and spiritualise the resurrection, as one theologian put it: ‘it was nothing to do with bodies’ (Schillebeeckx) Jesus’ corpse did not leave the empty tomb.

Most people think that Easter is about Jesus coming back to life, but not in his body, but this is a far cry from the truth we see and hear in the scriptures. Far from being unimportant – the resurrection of the body of Jesus is very essence of Christianity.

The resurrection of Jesus was not some clever trick. It was a physical tangible reality that the disciples experienced.

The one who died, the physical Jesus, Peter declares, God raised again! God raised again. No ifs, no buts, no qualification, no trivialising, no spiritualising, no demystifying, no rationalising, no. He who suffered in the flesh, whose skin was ripped, whose blood was shed, whose body was afflicted with pain, whose side was pierced, whose hands were nailed, whose feet were bound, whose heart stopped, who was completely and utterly dead.

That Jesus, this Jesus whom we worship, rose in the same flesh, in the same body. He who raised him from the dead glorified him!

On appearing to the disciples, their first thought is that they have seen a ghost, not too much of a far cry from what many would think today, for ghosts, it seems, are all the rage. But the record is put straight again. Not by one of the disciples, but rather by the Lord himself. They were ‘startled and terrified’, and Jesus asks them ‘why are you frightened, why do doubts raise in your hearts?’ Jesus

Jesus declares: ‘look at my hands and feet, it is I, myself’. He reveals himself not as a ghost, not a creature, not an apparition, not a symbol, or a figment of their imagination, but the man they knew and loved who was crucified. Standing before them, flesh and bone. And a final act of confirmation, he eats food with them, a ghost cannot eat food, no, proving beyond doubt that his resurrection was a bodily one a fleshly one: it was the Jesus in the flesh.

Peter says to the crowds in our first reading that they acted in ignorance. We can sometimes do the same, perhaps we find the resurrection of the flesh difficult to comprehend, but today, we are given the truth from the Lord himself. St John reminds us today that we are God’s children and we shall be like him. By our baptisms we share in his death, we will die, but, but, we shall share in his resurrection. That means, that at the end of time when Christ returns, our bodies will be raised from the dead and glorified. We will be like the Lord, he will take us and transform us. We won’t be ghosts floating around or spirits, we will be people of resurrected bodies.

In this day and age, and even in some quarters of the Church it’s become fashionable to think that after we die our bodies don’t matter. This couldn’t be further from the truth. They matter, because God raised Jesus in the flesh. God will raise them up, he will raise us up. That is what the earliest Christians believed, it is what we still believe as the Church, for in a moment we will say in the Creed, we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting not, we will not say: we believe we will live on but how doesn’t matter, we will not say our souls are resurrected, no, we will say with conviction that we believe in the resurrection of the body. The body.

That will be our end. But now, as we live on this earth, let each of us, in the words of the Psalm, have ‘gladness in our hearts’ for we ‘are an Easter people and alleluia is our song’. We have the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life because Jesus rose from the dead. It will not be end of our life but the beginning.

Easter is not kindness, compassion or hard work. Easter is resurrection, resurrection of the flesh, in, by, and through Christ’s own resurrection.

Put your trust in his rising, believe, and his resurrection will be your resurrection. Believe, and your bodies will be made glorious by his body. Believe, and you will have new life, by his life, his resurrected life!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed, alleluia!

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