Mystagogic Catechesis

This is a time in the church year for mystagogic catechesis, a big word for remembering and reflecting on the presence of Jesus in sacraments. When Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and other witnesses and showed them he was alive. He showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Jesus says to Thomas. 

Yet even as he appears to them risen, Jesus begins to wean them away from knowing him physically. His resurrection appearances are occasional. None of them are long.  All of them verify he is risen body and spirit. He’s alive. 

But Jesus also distances himself from his followers seeing him bodily.  “Do not cling to me,” he says to Mary Magdalene. The disciples on the way to Emmaus don’t recognize him bodily even as he’s walking right next to them.  

“Were not our heats burning within as he spoke to us.” They are already beginning to recognize him as he spoke to them using the scriptures. “Stay with us, Lord,”  but after breaking bread with them, he disappears from their sight.

Those who saw him bodily must learn now to see him in another way –through signs, like bread and wine, water, in gathering together where they remember him, in the scriptures that speak of him, in the poor and suffering who are wounded like him, in the signs of the times that unfold before them.

That’s the way Jesus will remain with them, and that’s the way Jesus remains with us.  Ascending into heaven, he returned to the right hand of the Father, but it also ended one way of seeing him and was the beginning of another.

From Easter to Pentecost this is the mystery the liturgy unfolds so beautifully. In our readings these last few days we’re told we will hear the voice of the shepherd rather than see him.  On Thursday, we’ll begin reading the Last Supper discourse from John’s Gospel for the remaining days of the Easter season.

Some commentators, like those in the Jesus Seminar, question whether Jesus actually spoke the words of the Last Supper discourse in John at the Last Supper; they claim it’s a prime example of the historical inaccuracy of the New Testament.

Should we see instead John’s Last Supper discourse arising from the new presence of Jesus in sacraments, and so  an early mystagogic catechesis?

In Peter’s important discourse after meeting the Roman soldier Cornelius in Caesaria Maritime, he says: “This man God raised (on) the third day and granted that he be visible not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:$0-41)

 Peter and the others ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection. He invites Cornelius and his household to be baptised. Doesn’t he also invite him to share in the continuation of the Last Supper meal, to eat and drink with Jesus who shares his body and blood in signs, whose voice is heard in signs?  He is present. His presence is real, a sacramental presence. 

3 thoughts on “Mystagogic Catechesis

  1. cenaclemary12

    “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:26–29).
    Does Jesus expect “blind” faith?
    Faith is evidenced based.
    Jesus life itself affirms my belief.
    John proclaimed the evidence
    —what they heard, saw, and touched.
    Those who came after the disciples would believe
    and have fellowship with them.
    I trust in what I have good evidence to believe is true.
    Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.


  2. Rene Tapel

    Dear Fr. Victor, Your sharing of your homily last sunday and this follow up (mystagogic catechesis)raised up my understanding of the Resurrection. How does the risen Lord raise me up daily?Thank you so much. Fr. Rene


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