Luke comes to the end of his gospel with a meal that looks to the future of the Church and its mission. This last of the ten meals in Luke and the first meal with the full assembly of the church is a “to be continued” episode. Those at this meal (Lk. 24:36-53) must accept the responsibility to spread the gospel.
The three-part story reflects the early Christian liturgy as it’s beginning to take shape around 75 A.D. Jesus appears to the community, greets them, and eats fish. Then Jesus gives a final discourse connecting what he taught with the mission the Church now must do. Finally Jesus blessed the people and ascends. This reflects the early liturgy consisting of greeting of peace, meal, discourse, and parting blessing.
After Jesus ascended, they returned to Jerusalem “filled with joy.” The gospel of great joy announced by the angel to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth is fulfilled. May this joy be ours as we dine at every Eucharist and someday dine in the Kingdom of God.