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Vatican Congregation for the Clergy: God Stands Before Us and Invites Us to Touch Him

By Congregation for the Clergy
April 23rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

God stands before us and invites us to touch Him.  God does not set conditions for us; He does not call for a special 'work' or a special 'space' in order for us to meet Him.  Rather God crosses for us the road that separates us from Him.  God himself is the 'sacred space' where we can meet Him.  "Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." (Luke 24:39). 

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On this third Sunday of Eastertide, the Church welcomes us into the Cenacle so that we can experience the visit of the Risen Lord, along with the Apostles.  This is a most special and unexpected visit, which reveals a ray of the Divine Mystery and calls us with renewed force to conversion.

This visit reveals to us some of the characteristics of the new Presence of the Risen Lord.  We can enumerate three: its realism, its abundance and the divine patience.

Firstly, the presence of the risen Christ is shown to be absolutely 'real'.  In the face of the Apostles' disbelief, Jesus makes two simple gestures.  He shows them His hands and His feet and He invites them to touch them.  How simple and yet how marvelous!  We see how the Christian is given the gift of immediacy with the divine. 

God stands before us and invites us to touch Him.  God does not set conditions for us; He does not call for a special 'work' or a special 'space' in order for us to meet Him.  Rather God crosses for us the road that separates us from Him. 

God himself is the 'sacred space' where we can meet Him.  "Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." (Luke 24:39). 

Then because, as the evangelist tells us, "they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed" (Luke 24:41), Jesus makes a second gesture which is even more disarming and unequivocal than the first - He shares some fish with them and He eats it before them.

Therefore, the presence of Christ is something real.  He is truly present, not only spiritually but corporeally too.  Just as we are real, with real bodies that take up real space, so Jesus is real and physical too.

But of course, Jesus is real and physical in a new way - an abundant way.  This abundance is the second characteristic of his risen presence.  He is present in His real body - the crucified body that we adored on Good Friday, but at the same time the body that has been transformed. 

We say that his body is 'glorified'; it is totally interpenetrated with the eternity of God, so that He can enter the upper room behind closed doors.  He can eat like any other man yet He can appear suddenly and He can be touched.  He can speak to those disciples with whom He shared His life two thousand years ago, and yet He is our contemporary and He invites us to share in His life too.

The presence of Christ is therefore both real and abundant, so that, while he stands before us, He also invites us to open ourselves up.  We are called to abandon all that limits us and be opened to the greatness and goodness of His Life and Will.

Faced with this abundance of Jesus, we can clearly see how foolish the temptation to philosophical rationalism is for us in the same way as it was also foolish for the disciples.  This doctrine, which is increasingly widespread, especially in the West, ascribes the divine 'omnipotence' to human rationality. 

It claims that humans are able to not only question and understand the meaning of reality, but even that we can make ourselves the measure of all things.  In fact, the presence of the Risen Jesus shows up our inadequacy and inconsistency. 

God exists, He is close to us, and He is present in a way that is unpredictable and almost unimaginable for us.  This means we don't have to give up in our weakness: instead we can convert to God's way of loving.

Finally, the Risen Christ shows the Apostles a 'patience' which is moving.  So often when faced with unrequited love, we withdraw from relationships with those around us.  Jesus, however, loves us insistently, waiting with patience for us to surrender to the splendour of his face.

Let us pray that Our Lady will obtain for us the gift of this 'surrender' of heart.  Most Blessed Mary, who gave us Jesus, the true measure of the universe, and who is now assumed into heaven where you partake in the glory of the resurrection, direct us to your Son and generate true life for us.  Amen.

Citations of
Ac 3,13-15.17-19:   www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9asubuc.htm    
1Io 2,1-5a: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abspcb.htm    
Lc 24,35-48:    www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9bxwpfx.htm    

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