In Bede we read of the encouragement the Disciples receive from what should comfort us – namely that Jesus keeps his promise – where there were two or three gathered together, there he was. When we come together to receive Him in the Eucharist, he is indeed here with us; who can doubt it? He gives us peace, and more than we can know. At the nativity the angels proclaimed peace to all men of good will, and by becoming Incarnate and dying for us, Jesus brings that peace to all who will receive him. He is indeed the Prince of Peace.
Asking why they were ‘troubled’, St Ambrose answers his own question by saying that it was not so for Peter or John who had seen and believed, but it may well have been so for the others – now He comes so that they might understand the full meaning of the Scripture. As St Ignatius of Antioch wrote, Jesus came in the flesh after the resurrection – he was no disembodied spirit. St Cyril of Alexandria makes much the same point when he emphasises that by showing them his wounds, Jesus was proving that he was the same person who had died upon the Cross. Jesus knows how troubled many of them will be by this, so he bids them peace and reveals to them that he is indeed risen, even as he said would be the case – which is why he allows them to touch him. In his commentary on Luke, St Cyril adds something which is still needful to be said:
Let no one quibble at the resurrection. Although you hear the Sacred Scripture say that the human body is sown a physical body but raised a spiritual body, do not deny the return of human bodies to incorruption.
Sts Leo, Ambrose and Augustine all join in emphasising the corporeal reality of the Risen Lord, as does St John Damascene who emphasises that although Jesus no longer felt physical wants, he wanted to show that he really had risen bodily from the dead. In doing so, he opened their minds to the great truth they were to proclaim to the ends of the earth.
Bede, like St Augustine, reminds us that their mission was to take his message of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all men. They did not yet understand the gifts they would be given at Pentecost, but were told that their mission would begin in Jerusalem.
He appears to us as he said, in the form of bread and wine which are his body and his blood, and when we are together to receive him, he is with us – even to the end of time. The Church proclaims to us the great truths he gave her. Shall we deny them?