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3rd Sunday of Easter 15April2018

Reflection by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh] Please note: the view of the above alone.

Ghost stories! Well I remember when such scary stories were told and enjoyed. As a Passionist student, I remember when late-night sessions listening to Ghost Stories left me afraid to go upstairs to bed! Do people still tell Ghost Stories?

Video and other electronic games are different from ghost stories. But perhaps they have in common that neither meet real people. The plots are wonderful, but they remain stories and games.

In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost.” {Gospel of St Luke} What do you think of the Apostles reaction? I understand why they were so agitated with doubts rising in their hearts. When you don’t expect to ever see a person again, if they appear before you, it seems reasonable to presume that you are seeing a ghost.

Let me tell you a little story about when I was surprised and dumbfounded to see a person standing before me whom I had never expected to meet at close quarters.  

In 1982, a Bishop visiting Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, asked me to be his chaplain for his visit to the Papal Apartments in the Vatican. The Pope and the Bishop were talking for over 30 minutes while I sat in a ‘holding area’. Then suddenly a Monsignor approached, clicked his fingers for me to follow him. He pointed to a door and off he went. I was ready to meet ‘my’ Bishop coming out the door. The door opened. Who was standing there on his own? The Pope! I was so dumbfounded that I could not find a word to say to him. He looked at me, in my Passionist habit, smiled and said, in English, ‘Hello’. I could only find a weak ‘Hello’ in response. He invited me to go ahead of him into his study.

The photos and sightings of the Pope in the distance at Audiences or his 1979 visit to Ireland, left me unprepared to feel the firm grip of his hand shaking mine.

Seeing Jesus again, standing among the disciples, saying to them, ‘Peace be with you!’, stunned them. Then just as I felt the firm grasp of the hands of Pope Saint John Paul II, so Jesus moves to reassure them that he is not a ghost. ‘Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has not flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ {St Luke in today’s Gospel} Their reaction is sheer joy at seeing Him alive again, beyond their hopes or dreams.

Jesus goes a step further to dispel any lingering doubt that He was a ghost. He asks if the disciples have anything to eat? Jesus eats a piece of grilled fish. Ghosts don’t eat fish, (with or without chips!) When I read how Jesus did all possible to show to his followers His real presence after the Resurrection, I too am filled with joy. Every time at Mass that I receive Holy Communion, on my tongue or into my hand, I touch the Body and Blood of Jesus. His Body touches me, body and soul. What a privilege!

Pope Francis recently issued an Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate’ on the call to holiness in today’s world, filled with encouragement for us to become saints! He exhorts us, ‘Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when He created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self.’  [No. 32]

Jesus is not a ghost after Rising from the dead. We too are not soul alone, but also with a body. It is by both body and soul that we are witnesses to the Risen Jesus.

As this Bulletin goes to print and onto the Internet this Friday noon, prayer is urgently needed for peace in our world.


Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56

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