by Kathy Christianson
It’s been four weeks since the resurrection. The wonder and the mystery of the exceptional event that just occurred is still being talked about. I will bet that Cleopas and his companion walking on the road to Emmaus were not the only ones talking about this magnificent happening!!
What stood out for me in this gospel story is the part that says “…Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him”. So, here the two are, walking down the road, and the very person that they are talking about joins them! And they do not recognize him. Why were their eyes kept from recognizing him? Was it disbelief that it could possibly be Jesus since he had “disappeared”? Was it because they were so engrossed in sharing what they had heard that they didn’t give the stranger a second glance – they were not totally aware?
One aspect of faith that is important is that just because we can’t see Jesus doesn’t mean he isn’t here. That he isn’t with us. He and his words of wisdom are still among us every day. He will help us, if we ask. He will share with us, if we listen.
I struggle, and I mention this often, that I get very caught up in the tasks of everyday living. My growth, and I keep practicing, is to remember the lessons taught by Jesus and he said–“ Love your neighbor as yourself, knowing that all men and women are your neighbor and that in loving them, you are loving God. So many search the earth and do not realize that they gaze into the face of the divine every day, for the divine is in each of us.” And I forget that often. Sometimes, I realize afterward that there Jesus was – standing beside me the whole time and I didn’t even recognize him -so caught up in myself, so caught up in the situation.
Opening our eyes and recognizing Jesus and all he stood for will lead us to happiness and peace.
I was very touched by the part of the gospel that says that as the three neared the village of Emmaus, that Jesus went to walk away and the two walking partners invited Jesus to stay with them. They offered their hospitality for the night. It was while they were eating dinner, and Jesus blessed the bread and broke it and passed it around that his two traveling companions recognized him. Oh, the familiarity of what they just witnessed – breaking of bread. They had seen it before! This is him! And they became aware. Their eyes were opened.
Sitting and dining with loved ones can create a very strong connection. I still remember at our dinner table growing up (there were 7 of us), the sense of connection as the trials and tribulations of the day were either shared at the table and you received support, or the trials of the day disappeared as we shared stories or news or just sat and basked in the comfort of all being together at the table. I didn’t understand that so much then. But I understand and feel it now.
Warm memories as we gathered at the table. Like the time, Mother had made ginger bread with whipped cream (real whipped cream – not canned) for dessert. One of brothers said, “Mom, when we were at the beach I saw a crab come out of the sand.” Mother said, “Oh, it must have been a sand crab.” Now, this was said just as I took a mouthful of desert. This struck me as so funny that I sprayed the ginger bread all over the table and the milk carton in front of me. Everyone at the table roared with laughter. Now, that was 50 years ago. And I still remember it in detail. Memories and connections created while being together.
And Jesus also asks us to remember him as a powerful connection is created when we are part of the blessing of the bread, breaking it up so that all may partake and eating it as we are gathered at the table together. Food for the journey. I think that for Jesus it wasn’t so much about being personally remembered but more about remembering his words and the lessons that he gave us for a better life – a happier life. Invite Jesus to stay with you. Offer him your hospitality and let him rest with you. Don’t forget he is near.
“For those with ears to hear it, let them hear it.”