Jesus is risen! The grave could not hold Him. Death could not keep Him. He has thrown open the gates of Heaven. Yet for forty days, He remains at least partially on earth. He meets with His disciples many times, showing them that He is truly alive. His risen Body is amazing to behold. He is so different, but He is still the same Jesus, Who has now died and risen again to save His people from their sins.
Let's reflect on the risen Jesus. In so many ways, He is still the same Jesus He always has been. He is still both God and Man, both divine and human. Even though He is risen, He still has a human body. He makes this clear to His disciples on Easter Sunday when He first appears to them. They think He is a ghost, but He answers, “Look at My hands and My feet; see that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Even His wounds are still visible, marks of the suffering He endured for our sake. He invites Thomas, “Put your finger here and see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it in My side. Do not doubt but believe.” Jesus is still human.
Jesus is also still invested in the same relationships He had been before His death and resurrection. Tradition tells us that He probably appears first to His mother after He is raised from the dead. He still values her love and honors her as His mother. Further, His relationship with His apostles and disciples is still fully intact. He appears to Mary Magdalene, calling her by name. He appears to the other women, telling them to inform His “brothers,” the apostles, of His resurrection. He appears to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, comforting them and teaching them. He appears to the apostles in the upper room, assuring them of His peace and instructing them about their mission. He appears to several apostles at the Sea of Tiberius, where He cooks breakfast for them. Jesus still preserves the relationships He has always cherished.
Jesus still treats His loved ones with the same mercy and compassion that He has always shown. Look at how He deals with Peter by the seashore. One the day of Jesus' crucifixion, Peter had denied Him three times. Now Jesus says nothing about that. Instead, He allows Peter to make up for those denials. “Simon son of John,” Jesus says to Peter, “do you love Me more than these?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Jesus says in reply, “Feed My lambs.” The conversation repeats twice more with only a few variations. Jesus has just given Peter a chance to make up for his denials, to proclaim his love, and to reclaim his mission. Jesus is still the same merciful and compassionate Lord that He always was.
Even though Jesus is still the same in many ways, He is different, too. He is now the risen Lord. While He is human, He has now taken humanity to a new level. The laws of time and space no longer apply to Him. He can appear out of nowhere and enter through locked doors. He can also change His appearance at will, so much so that sometimes His closest followers do not recognize Him immediately. Although the marks of His wounds remain, He no longer suffers in His physical body. He has moved beyond that now. He is the Victor over suffering and death. He faced it and won. His new humanity is a glimpse of the humanity we will all have one day when, at the end of time, we join Him in His resurrected state.
Further, while Jesus firmly maintains His relationships, He takes them to a new level. He tells Mary Magdalene that she must not hold on to Him, for He will be ascending to His Father. Soon He will no longer be with His followers in the same way. He will be present to them, certainly, but now in the Eucharist. He will continue to teach them but now through the Church. He will continue to guide them, comfort them, and heal them but now in the sacraments. They will have to walk by faith and not by sight.
Jesus is risen! He is old; He is new. His the same; He is different. But He is still Jesus, and He still loves us beyond all telling. Alleluia! Alleluia!