Part IV. Easter Sunday: The Somatic Traumatic and Pandemic Lockdown
“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.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Luke 24:39-43
We arrive at the most scandalous expression of the tactile and somatic essence of our faith: Resurrection. Specifically Luke’s account, in which the Crucified One appears among the locked-down community. The wounds he sustained from torture and execution—typically sanitized in western art—are fully evident, we are told. Moreover, he invites their examination. And asks for a hot meal.
Exactly a year ago at Garret Evangelical Seminary I offered this reflection on the “traumatic somatic” nature of Luke’s Resurrection account. I suggested the analogy of Emmet Till’s mother’s insistence on showing the murdered boy’s body at his funeral, what Deneen Brown later called the “open casket that sparked a civil rights movement.” This might help us understand how the resurrection of Jesus’ body animated an insurrection among the body of his followers, whose bodies soon showed up back at the Temple plaza—the “scene of the crime”—proclaiming liberation and getting busted.
Executed One, Beat-up One, Famished One, Refusing-to-be-Dead One. Ours is not a ghostly tradition. Which is supremely inconvenient for our season of “physical/social/communal distancing.” How deliciously awkward it is today to read about the Undead Kyrios busting in on our closed doors, breathing on us, insisting that we reckon with his battered flesh, eating with us. In these times of taboo touching, prohibited intimacy and enforced isolation, once again the gospel reminds us of the centrality of the somatic. Let us refuse to let go of that, even if we can’t, at the moment, hold one another.