Nature and Resurrection: "Have you anything here to eat?"

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them,"Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24:36-43)

This is a curious Gospel passage. Having broken the barrier of death, Christ appears in the humdrum human world and eats a piece of fish with his friends. His body—now glorified—is substantial, and yet at a whim it can come and go and move through matter and, yes, eat. Two millennia before Albert Einstein exploded our understanding of physics with the mathematical relationship between energy and matter, the Risen Christ demonstrated this relation to his amazed disciples—and He incorporated within it will, intellect, and love.

To be sure, the inner light of the Resurrection accounts still astonishes. These accounts are alive—and fittingly so—with a mystery that human reckoning is slowly unpacking and embracing, especially as we explore the physics and metaphysics of reality.

For Catholic ecologists, the Resurrection accounts testify to the very beginning of revelation—to the goodness of creation as shown to us in the first chapter of Genesis. Indeed, given the clear importance of the post-Resurrection human body—and the very proclamation of Resurrection!—early Catholics were loath to accept dualistic tendencies that ran deep in pagan antiquity. After all, why would the evangelists record such peculiar and consistent details? To the common notion that the material world was inherently evil—that it was something from which to escape—the early Church said No!

But this battle was never fully won. Today, we find a similar debate, and not just among modern-day pagans. Some of our well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ are unwilling to embrace the notion that creation is a great good that cannot be poisoned or dismissed without distorting core Christian theological principles.

Indeed, now more than ever we see the implications of dismissing the material world. As modern science is showing us, our own human bodies are increasingly becoming infested with toxins—chemicals that we make, misuse, and improperly dispose. Such chemicals, like mercury, even end up in the fish that we eat. It would seem that there is a direct link between a cultural disdain for Christianity’s Incarnation and the damage we’re inflicting to ourselves and our children through invisible forms of chemical warfare that comes with life in the modern world.

Let us pray that over the next weeks of the Easter Season, all Christians will reflect on the resurrection narratives and see the great good of creation that sustains us all, and that we must sustain if we want to truly and fully proclaim Resurrection!

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.