Eating broiled fish

Easter 3B (RCL)
Acts 3:12-19
Psalm 4
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24:36-48

O.k., so one drawback of the RCL is no option for the Acts of the Apostles during Easter. I know we are supposed to read the Acts to learn of the infant church in the light of the resurrection, but could Peter preach any more inflammatory sermon? “You killed Jesus!” he thunders. Oh, I know you did it in ignorance, but that hardly softens the blow. Of course, by the time Luke is writing, all that’s left of Judaism (at least in the headlines) would have been the violent hold-outs. Perhaps Luke is trying to tell his Greek readers, “We Christians are not those kind of Jews.” Still, what a legacy.

So, what to make of the other readings? The passage from Luke’s Gospel follows (literarily) on the heels of the story of the road to Emmaus. In this reading again, Jesus opens the eyes of the faithful to understand the scriptures about the messiah, and then eats with them. There are many parallels here to John’s appearance stories: Peace be with you; see/touch my hands and feet; even the fish lines up with the barbeque on the beach in John. These must have been messages the new community needed to hear.

The bread of Emmaus and the fish of this appearance remind me of bread and fish in the wilderness — perhaps an early christian eucharist associated with the resurrection rather than the passion. Bread and fish, according to Jewish literature of the time, was to be the messianic meal at the end time. God would destroy Leviathan, the sea monster, and feed it to his people. Also, no sacrifice involved (no blood). Jesus’ community is already eating that meal.

Troubling, however, is that resurrected bodies eat. I don’t think we usually include that in our picture of “heaven.” Bodies are loci for relationships. So what gets resurrected is the whole set of relationships I carry in my body. Food, of course, is perhaps the densest signifier of relationship there is — it connects us to the earth, the sun (all food is ultimately sunshine, water and dirt), with the economies that bring it to our tables, to the hands that prepared it and to the gathering that eats it. It structures our whole universe. All that gets resurrected!

John’s letter tells us that now, we are God’s children, but what we will be, we don’t know. What we do know is that when he is revealed, we will be like God, because we will see God like God is. We will see God reflected in bodies, in food, in the connections that entangle us with the whole cosmos, and all of it will be transformed. How poor is the belief of the immortality of the soul in comparison to resurrected bodies that eat broiled fish.

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