Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sometimes you have to walk

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.

People walk away from community all the time. In frustration, anger, boredom, busyness. Emmaus beckons with all its self-centred temptations and time consuming distractions. You can't blame the community for closing ranks and feeling justified.  It's true that some people need to find their own way.

 The definition of Emmaus is 'warm spring' so it has been suggested by some that these disciples were on their way to a spa town to 'cheer themselves up' - to clear the smell of tragedy and fear from their skin.  The road makes they feel homeless and downcast. Keen to share their grief; eager to speak of Jesus as their leader; open about their shattered dreams and more than willing to walk with a wandering preacher who can give them some hope through the words of scripture. And happy to bring this stranger to the place where they were going to spend the night.

They are not cowards then or running away - they simply do not know what to do with themselves. As a reaction to grief this is probably one of the healthiest - to go to a place where you are safe - to share your grief with a sympathetic ear - to allow yourself to be comforted. They sound like good people.

We 'living in hindsight' people suggest that they should have stayed in Jerusalem - the Holy Place; should have waited it out; should have had some faith in the words of the women. Jesus calls them foolish but are they any worse than the others? And it would appear that his exclamation is more exasperation - as it has been many times with the other disciples. They are certainly worth tracking down and bringing home. 

The two have taken the journey of those who seek him with yearning hearts and without certainty. Their hearts are still eager for the Word and full of the gift of hospitality for the stranger, as Jesus had asked of them.  What a surprise it must have seemed that it was the stranger who was the answer.

The welcome encounter...the sorrow healed...understanding in sharing... relationship in table fellowship... courage in enlightenment.  

The road to Emmaus assures us that Jesus is always afoot; that there are always places to be community; there is always time to take a walk and there is always time for eucharistia. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has God sent a prophet?
Be sure to read about the “Seal of the Living God” found on the homepage links - *a Biblical reference to this topic: Rev. chapter 7