The Epistle given below includes a few more verses than found in the text of the Roman Missal:
Three or four weeks ago at the Catholic Studies Group meeting, one of our members raised a question that caught me a bit off guard. Based primarily, I assume, on the narrative of Jesus being able to pass into the Upper Room even though “the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews,” the fellow said that he had always assumed that after the Resurrection our Lord did not have a physical body but was something like a ghost. How else could He have passed through the walls or the doors to gain entry into the room?
We don’t know exactly how our Lord was able to do such a thing, but there is a lot of other evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead with both body and soul, humanity and divinity intact.
Man is a creature of both body and soul. During His public life, our Lord concerned Himself with things physical as well as spiritual. We know that he fed crowds of several thousand people through the multiplication of loaves—the Gospels mention at least two separate occasions. He turned water into wine at Cana of Galilee. On more occasions than we can count, Jesus healed the sick of their physical illnesses, and, just as we just read in today’s Gospel, the cure was sometimes accomplished through physical means—the deaf and dumb man was healed when our Lord put His fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue, saying: “ephpheta; be thou opened.” On another occasion a blind man’s eyes were anointed with clay made with our Lord’s spittle—when the clay was washed away the man born blind was able to see for the first time in his life. The Most Blessed Sacrament is a physical thing as well as spiritual—Jesus exercised the power (which He gave to His priests) to turn the substances of bread and wine into those of His body and blood.
The miracles were physical, but in virtually all cases, our Lord worked wonders that required at least the temporary suspension of the physical laws which usually govern things. Water does not usually turn itself into wine; those with illnesses from birth often remain as they have always been; five loaves and two fishes do not normally multiply themselves to feed five thousand people.
Jesus walking on water may be the closest recorded example of a miracle like His ability to enter the locked Upper Room. The Gospels record that roughly a year before His death and resurrection, Jesus walked on water. Saint Matthew’s account even has Peter get out of the boat and walk with Him for a few brief steps. Clearly, Jesus’ body was always capable of things denied to other men—if the water could support Him as though it were solid, why should not the walls admit Him as though they were liquid?
Then too, we have several events recorded in the Scriptures which describe our Lord purposefully demonstrating His material nature. Man is a creature of both body and soul, and Jesus would not have been Jesus if He was one without the other. Saint Thomas would not have been able to put his hand into the side of a ghost, or his finger into a wounded hand that was not there. A spirit could not have baked bread and fish for the Apostles as Jesus did at the Sea of Tiberias just before His ascension into heaven. Saint John wrote that “many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” There was simply not enough room in which to write them.
And, of course, we just heard Saint Paul’s testimony to the Corinthians about the numbers of people who had encountered Jesus after His Resurrection—the various disciples, and even one occasion where some five hundred people all saw Him in one place. The reason Paul wrote these words, and the reason that I read a few more of his words than those in the missal, should be clear to everyone:
Without the Resurrection, our Faith would be of little or no enduring consequence! If our lives merely came to an end after our allotted “seventy or eighty years” there would be very little point in what Jesus did during the course of His life; and very little point in our following His example during our own lives. Without the Resurrection, Christianity would be like one of the manmade religions of the East; philosophies, really, not religions.
Without the Resurrection, we would have nothing more than the wisdom of the Chinese philosopher Confucius—an elegant system of ethics and civic behavior that comes to an end at death, except for the rather sterile “immortality” of being remembered and honored by one’s descendents—a mere veneration of ancestors.
Or perhaps, without the Resurrection, we might be like the Buddhists of India—looking forward to death as nothing more than a release from the frustration and pain and sufferings of life.
But, in fact, we have seen that there is a Resurrection. We have abundant testimony that Jesus Christ was seen “in the flesh” by many people during the forty days between Easter Sunday and His Ascension into heaven. Not only was Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead, but that very same Son of God, has promised that we too will share in His Resurrection. Just a few weeks ago, Saint Paul told us that “all who have been baptized into Jesus Christ have been baptized into His death ... [and] if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, we shall likewise be united with Him in the likeness of His Resurrection.” In fact we have the words of our Lord Himself: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, even if he dies, shall live; whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” Or, if possible, even more to the point, the words in that special chapter of Saint John’s Gospel in which He tells us: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood shall have life everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
We have good reason then to look forward to our own resurrection unto eternal life with God in heaven. Ours will not be a mere philosophy that ends with death, amounting to nothing more than the remembrance of our descendents or the escape from suffering. We have it on the word of God Himself, that He “will raise us up on the last day.”
Only one thing remains to be said. As Catholics we believe that on the Day of Judgment, everyone will rise from the dead—the good as well as the bad. It is up to us to ensure that ours is a resurrection unto eternal glory with God in heaven, rather than the resurrection of a body unable to do anything more than endure the eternal shame and punishment of hell. We have heard that the resurrection unto eternal life is for those who believe in Jesus Christ and all that He has revealed; it is for those who, through Baptism, are privileged to eat His flesh and drink His blood in Holy Communion.
On the day of judgment, “the Son of Man shall come in His majesty ... and all nations shall be gathered before Him, and He shall separate them one from another ... He shall set the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left ... «Come, ye blessed of my Father, and possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in ... naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.»” Woe to those who did not do these things for those in need: for “these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.”
1 Corinthians xv: 1-22.
Mark vii: 31-37
Matthew xiv: 21; xv:
38; and parallel Gospels
John ii: 1-11.
Gospel Mark vii: 31-37.
John ix: 1-7
Matthew xxvi: 26-27; cf
John vi: 31-69.
 Matthew xiv; Mark
vi; John vi.
 John xx: 27
John xxi: 9
John xx: 30.
Epistle, Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Romans vi: 3-11.
John xi: 25-26.
John vi: 55.
cf. Matthew xxv: 31-46