Sunday, 8 May 2011

Step Five

pilgrim's walk to lindisfarne
GospelLuke 24:13-35

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
  Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
  Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
  When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
  They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Step Five -  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

We have just had this Gospel as part of the apparition stories just after Easter. My last reflection thought about the feelings of loss and bereavement that sent these two out of the city just days after the finding of the empty tomb.  

Sudden loss can cause extreme and uncharacteristic behaviour. Whether it is a person, a home, a dream, a belief; what seems certain and eternal  becomes fragile and tenuous. When the ground is taken from under your feet - what can you do? Huddle together in  hiding as the disciples in Jerusalem did or run away in fear. Is one really any more wrong than the other?

These two disciples are no worse than the others, except that they only have each other. 
In the city, the disciples have the witness of the women, can remind themselves of the empty tomb, can share the scriptures and look for the signs that Jesus has, after all, spent three years pointing out to them time and time again. In each of them a spark of hope that they can nurse until the time comes for the fire to blaze.

But for the two - their hope is turning to despair until the Lord joins them. At first they blame everyone but themselves for their loss of faith, the journey to Emmaus likely to be a spiral into a blackness of 'what if's and 'if only's and maybe a denial that it had ever happened. 

The Risen Lord is as exasperated with them as he ever has been during his ministry, but he loves them and is not going to let that happen - not one hair, not one sparrow, not one sheep. To talk about their wrongdoings, their misunderstandings, their abandonments, with the one who is both God and Man -  no wonder their hearts burned within them. 

When I first went back to Confession it was only a few months before I realised that most months I was admitted to faults that were all variations on a theme. I was assured that this was a good thing - after all, how would it be if I came back with a different set of sins every time? 

It was by talking through my wrongdoings, in the presence of God and another human being, that I was able to see myself as I am. The more open I was about that 'me' the easier it became to face the wounds and the shadows that cause me to, as St Paul would say, to do what I would not and not do what I should. 

And why God? See Step Three. 


1 comment:

Margaret said...

Oh my gosh. I'm missing steps 1-4? I better keep reading.