3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C
First Reading: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41 
Second Reading: Rv 5:11-14
Gospel Reading: Jn 21:1-19

In the last few weeks the Church has gone from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, from despair to ecstasy. This Sunday’s Readings echo them both.

In the First Reading, the Jewish authorities have arrested the apostles for speaking in the name of Jesus. They want to kill them, but are persuaded to let them go. Before they dismiss them, however, they have them whipped. In the Gospel Reading, Jesus predicts that Peter will eventually die a martyr.

But in the Second Reading, we hear, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.”

And Christ has promised us the same glory.

“What we are to become has not yet been revealed,” St. John said. However, we can get a few clues from what the Gospels tell us about Christ’s resurrected body.

It was a real body, not a ghost, as Jesus proved by eating and drinking. Moreover, it was his own body, identifiable by the marks of the nails and the spear.

However, it was different. Often the disciples did not recognize him. Two of them accompanied him from Jerusalem to Emmaus and talked with him for several hours without realizing who he was.

Also, he had new powers over matter. He could appear and disappear. He could come into a room when the doors were locked.

St. Paul said that we cannot even imagine “what things God has prepared for those who love him.” So there is no point in trying to picture what our glorified bodies will be like, or hoping that we will be able to go on doing what pleases us now, like eating and drinking and making love.

In all honesty, Christ tells us that the next world will not be like that. C.S. Lewis compares him to a grownup trying to tell a small child how delightful married love is. The child listens and tries to imagine it, comparing it to what already delights him, like chocolate. Told that chocolate has no part in it, he loses interest. He cannot understand that his love of chocolate will be “swallowed up,” so to speak, in the greater joy.

We are like that with respect to heaven. All we can do is believe God. We believe in “the resurrection of the dead.” We “look forward” to “the life of the world to come.”

We may find it difficult to “look forward” to heaven. One reason is that we are too focused on this world. But another is that we do not recognize the desire when we feel it.

We feel it when we first fall in love, or dream of travel, or begin studying a new subject. But our desire is never satisfied by marriage, travel, or learning. Something always evades us. The “honeymoon” never lasts.

We can respond by trying another spouse, visiting a different country, or switching to another subject. We can even smother the longing. This makes sense if we are “crying for the moon,” but it is disastrous if lasting, utterly satisfying happiness is really there for the taking.

We believe it is. We feel hunger; food satisfies it. We feel sexual desire; sex satisfies it. If we feel a desire that nothing on earth satisfies, it is because we were made for another world.

Speaking of the next world, Jesus often appealed to our earthly desires, for earthly pleasures point toward heaven. We should always be grateful for them, then, and never despise them. But we must not mistake them for the real thing. We must keep alive in ourselves the explicit desire for our true country, heaven.

In the meantime, we must embrace our difficulties, trials, and humiliations if we want to enjoy the glory. It is the Lamb who was sacrificed who is worthy to receive honour. We cannot have Easter Sunday without Good Friday.