Tuesday, April 8, 2003

BCP - Easter 3 B - 2003

Lectionary Reading
Luke 24:13-35

"This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sorrow … .” Ah, Eastertide, the Church's joyful season of celebration: time to retell of Jesus' resurrection from the dead; his encounters with Mary Magdalene, Peter, Thomas, the two men on the road to Emmaus; liturgies rich with music, fragrant flowers, festive meals. This is a time to be glad. And with the joyful news comes other news of the continuation of war between Israel and Palestine; war in Afghanistan; civil war in Liberia; smoldering hatred in Northern Ireland; and unrest in all lands. In our families and communities we encounter people who are ill and in need of care and we must cope with our personal needs and concerns. All this can weigh one down. The joy of Eastertide is lovely, but, at times, can seem to be remote and it is hard to be joyous people.
The two men on the road to Emmaus could understand the dilemma of what should be and what they felt. News had reached them that Mary Magdalene had visited Jesus' tomb; had found the tomb empty; and had actually seen and talked with Jesus. Could such be true? They did not have the experience. We too hear the good news but do not have the experience.
In their sadness and preoccupation with their fears and despondency, they still could offer hospitality to one who appeared on the road with them. “Come, walk with us. Don't be alone.” Perhaps Jesus' presence was a comfortable one - a person with whom one did not hesitate to talk. Then again the two men might have been too sad and weary to mind what they said. When Jesus asks them to tell Him of their conversation, they opened their hearts to Him. They confided their hopes that Jesus might be the Messiah because of His teaching and ministry; they spoke of the collaboration of their religious leaders with the Roman government that resulted in Jesus' being crucified. They told of the experience of Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome. We too hear the Easter Gospel; we know the story and those who play their parts in the story.
When they had finished, Jesus said to them, “How dull you are. How slow to believe all that the prophet said!” How dull some of us are! We cannot allow the Good News to penetrate into our daily lives. Still the two men did not perceive their companion's identity even after His explaining the Scriptures to them. They were trying to understand the resurrection. Despite their lack of discernment they did not want Jesus to leave them. They invited Him to stay with them, to share a meal, to rest. Jesus accepted their invitation.
The story now has a significant turn. The guest becomes the host. At supper Jesus breaks and blesses the bread and then gives the bread to His two companions. Then they know that their travel companion is the Lord. Jesus assures them that He is alive and then disappears from them. The men are not devastated. Their hearts are “on fire” with joy and love and they run to Jerusalem to share their experience of the Risen Christ.
You and I may walk with Jesus. Sometimes in our walk we fail to discern His Presence because we are weighed down with sorrow and cares. We speak of these things and we nurture a hope that the life of Jesus will penetrate into our dull spirits. We may not be able to fully comprehend either our need or our words, but we can ask our Lord to stay with us. When we invite Jesus into our lives (through prayer, worship, meditation, study, acts of mercy) He accepts and He becomes the Host who bids us to share His life. When we accept His life we too know Him in “the breaking of the bread.” Then our hearts will also burn with joy and we shall eagerly share the Good News that He is alive and in our midst. “Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest - rather let us be your guest for you are the Host.”

David Bryan Hoopes, OHC
Superior, Order of the Holy Cross