What are you discussing as you walk along?
This is the question that Luke asks in today’s gospel. (Luke 24:13-35)
Whoever the two were, they were escaping Jerusalem for a safer town. They feared, as the disciples who locked themselves inside, in Jerusalem, that they were closer to being caught. So they escaped. They were discussing how disappointed they were in Jesus.
Why were they unable to recognize Jesus? Was he so disguised that they could not recognize his features? It was the middle of the afternoon. How could they not recognize him? They were not blind. Could they have been so into their sorrow and disappointment? Perhaps the two of them were so absorbed in their defeat of hope that they did not care to engage the stranger who walked up to join their walking out of town.
Jesus listens to their forlorn conversation and feels their sorrow. Jesus listens for miles as they walk, and finally responds which must have shocked them into a different kind of consciousness.
“You, two, are a bunch of fools,” Jesus tells them. “Why can’t you put two and two together?” And then, as still unrecognized, Jesus begins to explain all the connections, beginning with Moses and all the prophets and everything that referred to Jesus in all the Scripture. Although they did not understand; they will remark later: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way.”
Perhaps, we too need to talk and to wonder about all these things that were taught about Jesus. And why do we pray the way we do? What do we believe? Like the two on the road of life today, we need to ask questions and to understand. What is going on in our hearts? Why don’t we ask questions and seek answers?
What happened later when Jesus was with them, and they sat down to eat? It was a deja vu experience for them. What St. Luke describes (and he wasn’t there) was like the beginning of a supper they had a few days before.
Who or what had opened the Scriptures for them? Perhaps these two were not with them that first last supper night. The one who wrote this story recalls the Eleven (minus Judas) were back in Jerusalem. Who were these unnamed other two? No one tells us. They must have heard of that Last Supper, however. Perhaps, they were just experiencing it. What the Gospel writer Luke describes “while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished.”
So maybe, we need to stop, to pause, to reflect, to pull our own lives together: when was the last time I saw Jesus, where was the place, what happened to me? Maybe we have not brought our hearts, our spiritual desires to Jesus who is more than a statue or a painting. What would Jesus reveal to me about myself and himself, if I asked him to do so, kindly and simply? Maybe we need to bite the bullet and return to our time as a child and to our relationship with God the Kindly Father?
Today’s story from St. Luke’s gospel is the longest and most elaborate post resurrection appearance story. It reminds of several insights that are fundamental to our faith in the God who loves us and Jesus who is our way and truth and life.
- The risen Jesus is not exactly the same phenomenon as the Jesus of Nazareth.
- Maybe, what makes Jesus recognizable depends on us and not on Jesus?
- The risen Jesus responds to “strangers,” to anyone perhaps; perhaps we need to respond to “strangers” as well. Maybe we do not see or feel because there is no openness or desire.
- Jesus comes to us in the form of a stranger and he is present in the breaking of the bread. Maybe we have locked Jesus up in doctrine or in ritual practices or no practices at all. The breaking of the bread has to do with our hearts, not our heads.
- Where is your heart? Who has your heart? Where is the Risen Lord Jesus when we need him?
Sandra’s note: This song, “As,” by Stevie Wonder (featuring Herbie Hancock) came on the Hallmark Channel as I was typing up Father Richard’s words. In my mind, it cast a broad beam of sunshine on Father’s phrase “God the Kindly Father.” Enjoy the endless love and sunshine of the song and of our beautiful California weather today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYQfWJNWe3I