One of my friends claims to be a vegetarian because he says that Jesus was a vegetarian after the Resurrection. He points to this week’s Gospel where we read about Jesus eating baked fish. My friend further asserts that after the Resurrection, whenever Jesus eats, he eats only fish. While my friend is correct, I don’t think that Jesus would be promoting vegetarianism.
The reason Jesus eats anything after the Resurrection is simple: he wants to prove to his disciples that he is not a ghost. He is flesh and blood, just as they are. Jesus demonstrates that the Resurrection was real, definitive and actual; it was not fantasy or a figment of someone’s imagination.
On this Third Sunday of Easter, the Scripture passages further elucidate upon the meaning of the Resurrection. Again we hear how Jesus was handed over to Pilate, suffered, died and was buried, yet in God’s mercy and love was resurrected in order that we would have life eternal. There is an ancient saying: “that which is not assumed is not redeemed.” The logos Jesus Christ, had to assume human flesh—become one like us—in order to save us. One analogy might be a firefighter who goes into a burning building to save a trapped occupant. The firefighter puts himself in danger (becoming like the trapped victim) in order to pull that person to safety. In a similar, but more intimate, way, Jesus becomes human, lives our life, dies and is buried, in order to be raised to life again. He becomes the model and the proof of God’s promise of salvation.
All that is asked in return is that we keep his word. We cannot earn our salvation—Jesus already did that for us. No, our salvation is pure gift. We are invited to become like God by following his commandments and living our lives in imitation of Christ.
Time and time again in the Resurrection accounts, Jesus brings the word of “peace” to his disciples. This does not merely mean the absence of conflict; rather, it is that deep, abiding sense of security that can only be found in God’s presence. The Word becomes flesh to help us to realize that God is always around us. We have not been abandoned. We are never alone. Our Advocate Jesus Christ, as Saint John says in the second reading, is expiation for the sins of the whole world.
May this third week of celebrating the Easter mystery be a time for us to reflect upon how close God is near to us. May the love of God wipe away our sins and make us truly perfect.