Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes. (Luke 23)
When Maura died I ached for two things - the sound of her voice and her physical touch. We were always physically present to each other - when I returned home from Tanzania, having been away for two years, her hug was fierce and long; we sat shoulder to shoulder on the couch; she linked my arm when we walked. The ache for her touch was my prayer.
One night I dreamed there was a knock on the front door at home. I ran to open it and there stood Maura. She had come for a visit from her place in the great beyond. I hugged her tight and said with delight "I can actually feel you" and brought her to the kitchen where I asked her if she was able to eat. She said yes and I gave her a mug of tea and a piece of cake and we chatted.
When I woke from the dream, my ache for her touch was satisfied but what struck me most strongly is that we ate and drank together - she ate and drank. And this reminded me of the passage from Luke 23 which is today's gospel - where Jesus is trying to convince disciples that he is not a ghost but is physically alive. To prove the point, he asks for food.
At times I go on thinking that life after death is all about spirit but my dream and this gospel passage have reawakened my faith, my expectation, my anticipation of the resurrection of the body - my body, your body. We will touch each other again and we will touch Jesus. I don't know how but I know that God can do anything and it is what we profess in the Creed - "I believe in the resurrection of the body."
It suggests to me that the mother who has lost her baby will hold her baby again, the father his son, the husband his wife, the friend the friend. We will touch each other perfectly, will relate to each other with perfect and delightful love. The limitations of physical boundaries will no longer hold us back; the limitations of our frustrations with each other will be gone. Our wounds will be healed - present but transformed.
The prophecies of the heavenly banquet will be fulfilled. And we will enter into the eternal, infinite exploration of the mystery of who God is and who we are in Him.