As each day of my social distancing and stay at home order continues, I appreciate more and more just how sacred it is to recognize Jesus with all of you as we break bread and share stories together. My heart burns inside me as I recall just how sacred our shared Eucharistic experience has been and how much I long for it when we gather again. My heart also burns as I watch the many touching and truly deserved tributes to our medical heroes on TV.
Probably like many of you, I have been taking more walks and meeting neighbors who are walking more as well. I am confident that I would never have met them without the restrictions that we have. I would never have recognized them as my neighbors.
Recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread and sharing stories… burning hearts… encountering others on walks… All three of these are essential elements of what is one of my all-time favorite Gospels, this week’s passage from Luke. It is often referred to as The Road to Emmaus, but that doesn’t come close to describing the significance of the unfolding events that literally turn these disciples around.
I often point out that the entire Gospel of Luke is written as a journey TOWARD Jerusalem. At the beginning of the passage, these disciples are walking AWAY from Jerusalem. At the end they return. Something really significant must have happened in between.
Well, actually a lot of things happened:
• It takes place on the FIRST Easter day and the FIRST day of the week. It is a beginning, not an ending
• They are walking and discussing, in a lively manner, the significant recent events
• Jesus shows up and walks with them
• Their EYES don’t recognize him (but their hearts do)
• Jesus asks about their discussion
• They are surprised of his supposed lack of knowledge regarding the significant recent happenings
• They ask if he’s the only one who doesn’t know about these events
• He engages them by asking for an explanation
• They succinctly describe his title as a prophet and his awful suffering and death
• They share their disappointment and unfulfilled high hopes
• They also share that they heard he is alive
• They share facts of women’s reports, that angels declared he is alive
• They report that others of their group visited the site, but didn’t see him
• Jesus calls them foolish and slow
• He explains that what happened was all necessary
• He reinterprets Scripture in light of the significant events, especially passages that directly refer to his suffering, death and Resurrection
• They invite him to stay with them
• He stays
• He took bread
• He said the blessing
• He broke it
• He gave it to them
• This opened their eyes
• They recognized him in the breaking of the bread
• All this caused them to realize how important he was before, as he shared scripture
• Their hearts had burned and were burning again
• They realized how important all of this was
• They returned to their friends with greater appreciation and joy than ever
• They announced to others how sacred it was to recognize Jesus in their midst
I bet you can apply almost all of the above statements to your experience of Covid-19 restrictions recently: a deeper appreciation for simple things; just how important it is to be with loved ones and friends; just how heroic many people are; just how strong we can be; just how much we can recognize the Lord in our midst, regardless of restrictions and challenges, and just how important that is!