By

Easter3A 2017

Luke 24:13-35

13 Now on that same day two of them were

going to a village called Emmaus, about

seven miles from Jerusalem,  14 and talking

with each other about all these things that

had happened.  15 While they were talking and

discussing, Jesus himself came near and

went with them,  16 but their eyes were kept

from recognizing him.  17 And he said to them,

“What are you discussing with each other

while you walk along?” They stood still,

looking sad.  18 Then one of them, whose

name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you

the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not

know the things that have taken place there

in these days?”  19 He asked them, “What

things?” They replied, “The things about

Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet

mighty in deed and word before God and all

the people, 20 and how our chief priests and

leaders handed him over to be condemned

to death and crucified him.  21 But we had

hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third

day since these things took

place.  22 Moreover, some women of our group

astounded us. They were at the tomb early

this morning,  23 and when they did not find

his body there, they came back and told us

that they had indeed seen a vision of angels

who said that he was alive.  24 Some of those

who were with us went to the tomb and

found it just as the women had said; but

they did not see him.”  25 Then he said to

them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how

slow of heart to believe all that the prophets

have declared!  26 Was it not necessary that

the Messiah should suffer these things and

then enter into his glory?”  27 Then beginning

with Moses and all the prophets, he

interpreted to them the things about himself

in all the scriptures.  28 As they came near the

village to which they were going, he walked

ahead as if he were going on.  29 But they

urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us,

because it is almost evening and the day is

now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with

them.  30 When he was at the table with them,

he took bread, blessed and broke it, and

gave it to them.  31 Then their eyes were

opened, and they recognized him; and he

vanished from their sight.  32 They said to

each other, “Were not our hearts burning

within us while he was talking to us on the

road, while he was opening the scriptures to

us?”  33 That same hour they got up and

returned to Jerusalem; and they found the

eleven and their companions gathered

together.  34 They were saying, “The Lord has

risen indeed, and he has appeared to

Simon!”  35 Then they told what had happened

on the road, and how he had been made

known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Luke tells a story unique to his gospel.

Jesus had been crucified, his body

placed in a tomb; but it was discovered

that his body was no longer there.

Stories began to surface on that Sunday

about Jesus being resurrected from the

dead.

Two of Jesus’ followers, possibly

Cleopas and his wife, left the disciples

and their companions in Jerusalem and

headed for home. They were sad and

cloaked in disappointment.

They had hoped that Jesus would

redeem Israel, cleansing Israel’s sins

and restoring the Promised Land of

their ancestors back under Israel’s

control.

But their hopes were crucified and

dead. They were disappointed in their

deceased Jesus.

The two were walking home to

Emmaus when they crossed paths with

a stranger.

Showing hospitality to one another, the

stranger listened to the pair as they

shared their sadness and

disillusionment.

Then the two listened as the stranger

shared his perspective on their Jesus.

His words made the two think.

The stranger was invited into their

home to share a meal and lodging, as

evening was approaching. This type of

hospitality was not uncommon in

ancient Palestine.

At supper, the stranger took bread,

blessed it, broke it, and shared it. The

two had seen these actions many times

before as part of traditional, Jewish,

family meals. But most recently, they

must have witnessed Jesus doing these

same actions at his Last Supper with his

friends in Jerusalem.

That evening, at their table, they not

only recognize the familiar actions,

they also recognize the stranger as

Jesus. He quickly vanished.

The two hurried back 7 miles to

Jerusalem to tell the disciples: “We

have seen the Lord; he was made

known to us in the breaking of bread.”

Luke’s story reminds me of two

realities.

First, while as Christians we believe

that Christ Jesus is present in the

breaking of the bread in the Holy

Mystery of the Eucharist, it is also true

that whenever we ‘break bread’, El

Shaddai (God our provider) is present.

We don’t have to be in a church or

synagogue or temple to be in the

presence of God. Too often we divide

life into categories of sacred and

secular.

Jesus is made known in Emmaus in a

home during a simple meal.

And, I believe, God is present in

everything God has created.

God is present in the land and seed that

produced the wheat to make the bread,

in the labor that made the bread, and in

the bread, as well as in the lives with

whom we share the bread. God created

all and God is present in all.

When we ‘break bread’ with friends at

home or in a restaurant, do we

recognize that God is there with us?

Would it make a difference in our

conversations? Would it inspire us to a

deeper appreciation of one another and

the hands that helped to provide for us?

Would recognizing that God is present

arouse our hearts to accept how very

blessed and loved we really are?

I’ve come to understand, acknowledge

and greatly appreciate that God is

present in common, everyday life. I

think this is so because it is an

expression of God loving us and

investing in us beyond our

comprehension.

The second reality Luke’s story

reminds me of is this:

there have been times when, like the

two followers along the road to

Emmaus, I’ve been disillusioned and

disappointed in God.

As they had hoped for a different

outcome, so had I. I’d invested my tears

and prayers, pleading with God. The

answer never came as I anticipated.

Maybe you can relate to this

experience. Sometimes we hope and

pray for our children or spouse, for

employment or health, and situations

do not evolve as we had hoped and

prayed.

I’m learning that, like the two followers

of Jesus along the Emmaus road, it does

me well to be open to God’s vast

wisdom and creative compassion when

I pray.

Years ago, Sue Teagarden was

diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She

was a dear friend of my family and my

former Sunday School and Vacation

Bible School teacher.

Her church family and friends prayed

for Sue’s healing. Her preacher kept

praying and telling her week after

week, month after month, “God will

heal your body if you have enough

faith.” His well-intended words didn’t

help the situation – instead, they made

enemies for that narrow-minded

preacher.

Though her faith was strong, God didn’t

heal Sue of the MS.

As her body withered and her eyesight

rapidly diminished, something

incredible happened in Sue.

Her presence glowed. Her attitude was

joyful. Sue smiled as best her body

would allow and she welcomed visitors

with beaming love and gratitude.

Sue had been healed – not her body, but

her mind and spirit. She was healed,

not on the outside but on the inside –

and she extended God’s healing to

those who came to see her, people like

me.

Sue believed she had indeed been

healed, and I witnessed God’s miracle

every time I visited with Sue.

Over the 15 years she lived with MS,

countless individuals were touched by

the hand of God through the miracle of

Sue.

When we visited together, Sue would

always describe for me the ways God

was actively blessing her, right there in

the chair in which she was confined to

live.

I don’t know why God didn’t heal her

body; but I know God healed Sue and

healed the minds and spirits of many

others through her.

I am most grateful for knowing Sue,

for her love, and for her incredible gift

of God’s creative, miraculous

compassion alive in Sue.

The stories of people like Cleopas and

his wife along the road to Emmaus and

Sue Teagarden can inspire us to be

open to discovering God’s creative

compassion and wisdom often revealed

beyond our limited perspectives and

expectations.

And, our own stories have the power to

inspire others to engage God in their

own relationship, if we tell our stories.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 
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