Friends, in today’s Gospel, the risen Jesus appears to his eleven disciples. He does not appear as a Platonic soul, a ghost, or a hallucination. Instead, he can be touched and seen, has flesh and bones, and can consume baked fish. Against all their expectations, a dead man had returned, through the power of God, bodily and objectively, from death.
Even while insisting on this bodiliness and objectivity, we must not go to the opposite extreme. It really was Jesus, the crucified, who had returned from the dead. But he did not come back simply resuscitated to the confines of ordinary space and time. He was not, in a word, like Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus, or the son of the widow of Naim, all people who had been raised only to die again.
Instead, Jesus’ body is transformed and transfigured, independent of the strictures of space and time; it is, in Paul’s language, a “spiritual” body. And the point is this: he has triumphed over death and all that pertains to death. His resurrected body is a foretaste and promise of what God intends for all of us.