Beyond the Ghost

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Bernard Espiritu SVD – New Zealand

Thursday Octave of Easter

Image: Wikimedia Commons

It is not natural to talk about ghosts these days. Many find this subject weird and unreal. For many, it is a fictitious product of the human mind. However, some believe that ghosts are real. Incorporeal, intangible but perceptible by certain persons, and therefore can give the creeps.

The phrase “Peace be with you!” should convey the primary fruit of the Resurrection but its first mention in the Gospel today brought only confusion to those it was addressed. The reason may look simple, at first, though the truth is complex.

The Gospel rightly identified that it was Jesus who appeared. But all in the room knew he had been brutally killed on the Cross. And there he was, present in their midst. Was his presence an illusion? The Gospel fittingly described their state as startled, shocked and scared. And the best description is: “THEY SAW A GHOST!”

And the drama unfolded unexpectedly, from their troubled state, a familiar voice of their Master and Friend pacified them and even persuaded them to touch him. Truly, he was not a ghost. He was the Resurrected Jesus. He was tangible. I can even say he must have been huggable! He was indeed alive and Risen! What an indescribable joy!

When I read today’s Gospel passage, I am confronted with the question, “Is the Jesus I profess a ghost?” Or is he for real that the people who get to know him through me find solace in the Jesus I proclaim to them? How can I make my faith in the Resurrected Jesus tangible for others, to say the least, even “huggable”?

Going back to the WORD we have today, the story continued to unfold even more amazingly: “He asked for anything to eat.” And lo and behold, the disciples were ready to give him a very special treat: “Baked Fish!” I used to think that this passage is meant to prove further that he is not a ghost, for ghosts do not eat.

Yet, today, the phrase “while they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed” jump out and called my attention, and I asked myself, “I wonder why?” What will sustain their joy and amazement? What will keep that newly found ember of enthusiasm alive? 

The mention of food brought them all back to where Jesus met them last: At the Table of the Supper! The peace that belongs to the Resurrected Jesus the Christ is sustainable only when one can go back to the Table of the Eucharist, the Feast of Heaven. That Eucharistic Jesus enables us to bring, not his ghost that frightens faith-seekers, but his life-giving presence through the life we live.

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