The Bones of Jesus
I love watching home improvement and real estate programs on television. I can spend all evening following Chip and Joanna Gaines as they turn dilapidated Texas shacks into quasi-mansions, homes on the range. I will pass an hour or two following some Canadian family as they learn how much home their house will buy in various locations around the world. Certain types of TV are just addicting that way.
One of the comments that many homebuyers will make as they are searching for their dream house is, “It’s not too pretty, but it has good bones.” Those “good bones” are often enough for them to see beyond the lime-green shag carpet and orange knitted curtains and imagine the place where their family will grow.
Today, we hear about another appearance of Jesus to the disciples after His resurrection from the dead. The appearances are important because they establish the fact that Christ truly rose from the dead and that He appeared to His Apostles to encourage, strengthen, and send them. Already at this point in Luke’s story, Jesus has appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the women of the group, as well as Peter, had been to the tomb and found it empty, with the proclamation that “He is risen.”
Now, Jesus stands before them all – their Friend, who had been arrested, sentenced, executed, and buried. Now, He is there, speaking plainly to them. However, they are scared, believing that they are having a ghostly encounter. So, Christ offers up His proof to them Himself: He asks for food to eat, and He eats it in front of them. He shows them His hands and feet, and He reminds them that He has bones– good bones – the bones of Jesus!
These bones are presented to us in order that we know an essential truth of our faith: the Jesus whom the Apostles encountered that Easter evening – the Jesus that you and I encounter here at Mass – this is the same Jesus who taught, healed, suffered, and died – and He is alive!
The bones of Jesus are the structure upon which the Church is built, and without this faith in the real resurrection of Christ, we cannot go forth with any strength or courage to share the message of the Gospel with others. Jesus also knew this, and He encourages us: "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third dayand that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,would be preached in his nameto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.You are witnesses of these things."
“You are witnesses of these things," when you acknowledge Jesus risen in your life; when you proclaim His power at work in your family; when you recognize His presence in others, especially the poor and persecuted. This is what holiness is, and it is what holiness needs – the awareness of the truly Risen One present in our midst.
Pope Francis issued a new letter this past week that invites all the faithful to a life of holiness. This is not just some “window dressing” or superficial action to give us better “curb appeal.” Instead, holiness must stem first and foremost from a lived relationship with the Risen Christ. The bones of Jesus must become ourbones, because only in Him do our lives find a fullness of meaning that our age is so desperate to find. The Christian’s goal is to build a house based on Christ and our relationship with Him. Francis writes,
“The Father’s plan is Christ, and ourselves in him. In the end, it is Christ who loves in us, for ‘holiness is nothing other than charity lived to the full’. As a result, ‘the measure of our holiness stems from the stature that Christ achieves in us, to the extent that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we model our whole life on his’. Every saint is a message which the Holy Spirit takes from the riches of Jesus Christ and gives to his people” (GE, 22).
We are always called to examine our spiritual houses. These are more than just the personal, private practices that we decorate with (those are the shiplap, chandeliers, and marble countertops). Most important, they are the solid “bones” around which God is fashioning a home for Himself, to which we continue to invite others to join us. May the bones of Jesus, teach us the power of that Resurrection and life.