On the Third Sunday of Easter Pope Francis reflects on how being a Christian is not first of all a doctrine or a moral ideal, it is the living relationship with Him.
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday reappeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square to greet the faithful and recite the Regina Coeli prayer.
It’s the first time since 14 March that he has made direct contact with the people in the Square in accordance with the Italian government’s decrees to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pope reflected on the Gospel according to Luke (Lk 24) which tells of how the Resurrected Jesus presents himself in the midst of the group of disciples in the Cenacle in Jerusalem and greets them saying: “Peace to you!”
The disciples, he said, are frightened and believe “that they saw a spirit”. Then Jesus shows them his bodily wounds and says: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me”, and to convince them, he asks for food and eats it before their astonished eyes.
The Pope explained that three very tangible verbs characterize this Gospel passage: they are looking, touching and eating.
He said these are all verbs that reflect our individual and community life and describe actions that “can give joy to a true encounter with the living Jesus.”
Looking: the first step against indifference
Jesus, the Pope continued, says “See my hands and my feet” and this tells us that “looking is not only seeing, it is more; it also involves intention, will.”
“For this reason, it is one of the verbs of love. A mother and father look at their child; lovers look at each other; a good doctor looks at the patient carefully…. Looking is a first step against indifference, against the temptation to turn the face before the difficulties and sufferings of others,” he said.
Touching: closeness, contact, the sharing of life
Touching is also a verb of love, in fact the Pope explained, love calls for closeness, contact, the sharing of life. He said that “by inviting the disciples to touch him, to verify that he is not a spirit, Jesus indicates to them and to us that the relationship with him and with our brothers and sisters cannot remain “at a distance”, at the level of a gaze.”
The Good Samaritan he continued, “did not limit himself to looking at that man whom he found half dead along the road: he bent down, treated his wounds, loaded him on his mount and took him to the inn.”
It is the same with Jesus, the Holy Father continued: “loving him means entering a vital, tangible communion with Him.
Eating: nourishment necessary to live
The third verb, to eat, the Pope said, “clearly expresses our humanity in its most natural indigence, that is, our need to nourish ourselves in order to live.”
He reflected on when we eat together, with family or friends, it “also becomes an expression of love, of communion, of celebration.”
“How often the Gospels present us Jesus who experiences this convivial dimension! Even as the Risen One, with his disciples. To the point that the Eucharistic Banquet has become the emblematic sign of the Christian community,” he noted.
A living relationship with Jesus
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis explaining that this Gospel passage tells us that Jesus is not a “spirit”, but a living Person:
“Being Christian is not first of all a doctrine or a moral ideal; it is the living relationship with Him, with the Risen Lord: we look at him, we touch him, we are nourished by Him and, transformed by his Love, we look at, touch and nourish others as brothers and sisters.”
Pope happy to be back in the Square
After issuing an appeal for peace in Eastern Ukraine and recalling a group of Italian cicstercian monks who were beatified on Saturday, Pope Francis expressed his joy to be back in the Square in the presence of the faithful.
“Thanks to God we can once again meet in this Square for our Sunday and Festive appointments,” he said. “I must tell you,” he continued: “I miss the Square when I have to pray the Angelus in the Library… I am happy! Thanks to God and thanks to you all for your presence!”