|Road To Emmaus, Jack Mattingly|
They thought he was a stranger. They thought he was out of touch. They believed their rabbi had been a failure, and that his body had disappeared. They had seen these things with their own eyes, even looked into the empty tomb. The two travellers knew all the facts, and they were deeply sad.
The stranger was not sympathetic to their grief at all. He said they were foolish to be sad. He showed them how all these things had been prophesied. He also said that the story had not yet reached its glorious conclusion.
|Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio|
How many times, as I have traveled along the road of my life, have I dismissed a stranger? The bum on the subway? The retarded child? The crazy guy at the bus stop? The dopey redneck who lives down the street and sits on the porch drinking beer with his friends all day long? The pregnant teenager. The hustler in drag, working the alleys and back streets of Manhattan's meat packing district? The kid with his jeans sagging down below his butt crack?
Why do I overlook them? Because they aren't smart enough? Not clean enough? Don't have a job? Don't have an impressive vocabulary? Because they aren't as good or pious or humble as I am?
I read Luke's story of the road to Emmaus and can only ask myself, "How many times have I met Jesus and blown him off because he wasn't familiar or respectable or smart?
So many people are waiting for Jesus to show up on a white horse, swinging a shining sword and slaying the devil's armies. And maybe that will happen. But in the meantime, Jesus shows up every day, unrecognized, in the people and places where we least expect him.
At least Luke's travellers got to have a forehead smacking moment when they realized what had happened and whom they had encountered on the road. They got the chance to change direction. That's an opportunity we don't often enjoy. Usually, Jesus comes and goes and we miss him completely. We continue on our busy way to our own Emmaus without ever taking the time to hear the blessing or receive the bread. How tragic. What a waste: that we would ignore the Savior of the world because he doesn't look or sound or smell like we expect him to.
|Homeless Christ, Deb Hoeffner|
Our culture loves to remind us how dangerous the world is, how much we should be afraid of strangers, neighbors, even family. So we go though life with our blinders on and our guard up, as if anyone we meet might be the one who has come to destroy us. This gospel says something different. Luke says that anyone we meet might be the one who has come to save us. But we can't recognize him if we don't look.
My movement teacher in college used to say that the word "respect" actually means "to look again." To give someone respect means to give them a second look. Especially when we are tempted to look away and plow along ahead to our Emmaus. In this story, Jesus seems to agree. We may not find Christ when we look again, but then again, we just might.
Seems like it's worth the trouble, doesn't it?
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