Sunday, May 15, 2011

Re-reading the Emmaus Road (Easter 3 Year A)

Luke 24:13-35

This week’s lectionary contains a familiar post-resurrection story. Two disciples are walking on the Emmaus Rd, a third person joins them who is ultimately revealed as the risen Christ.

I want to mention very briefly three things about this story.

1. Who were these two disciples?

I know many of you have heard me talk about this before. However I think it bears repeating. As I looked at various commentaries, articles and pieces of art about this passage I was, again, amazed how many times I read the phrase “these two men “. 

How do we know it was two men? Quite simply . . . we don’t! Scripture only names one of these two disciples, Cleopas, the other remains unknown. The only thing we know for certain is that it was not one of the eleven.  Scripture tells us that these two disciples returned to give the eleven news that they had met the risen Christ.

Therefore I want to challenge the patriarchal reading of the scripture that immediately assumes that an unknown disciple must be male. 

Personally, I think the strongest contester for the position of the unnamed disciple is Cleopas’ wife. She was one of the women at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25, Cleopas is the Greek form of the name whilst Clopas is the Aramaic.) Personally, I find it hard to imagine that she would have been left behind, much easier to think of this as a couple returning home, saddened by the events of the previous few days. These two disciples obviously shared a house as they invited Jesus to stay in their home.

However, we cannot definitely know who it was. As I already said I simply want to challenge the patriarchal reading of scripture that immediately assumes that an unnamed disciple must be male and open our minds to other possibilities.

2. Not recognising Jesus

It is interesting how in the post-resurrection stories Jesus remains hidden until a moment of revelation.

I want to think about recognising Christ. It is another of those themes that we have talked about many times in our community. That we learn to recognise Christ wherever we are, whoever we are with and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. 

I think in this story there are two keys to recognising Christ . . . conversation and hospitality. I think these are useful keys for us as we meet people in our daily lives.

Conversation . . .  Christ initiated the conversation, Christ went to them. C an we take time to converse with those who are different, those we would not normally bother with, those who are wandering down a road feeling sad, scared and a little lost?

Hospitality . . . opening our homes, inviting in the stranger, risky, yet, as in this case, the risen Christ may be revealed to us.

3. Eucharist 

 Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it.

“This four fold action is the paradigm of Jesus’ life, the way he would have us interpret his life. It is his life that God chooses to take, bless, break and give. This self-giving of the Parent of the universe, for us humans and our salvation, ought to just astonish us.” 
(Jeff Krantz, “Preaching Peace Online”.  2008 

I wondered if we should make this the model for our lives and for our community. Lives dedicated to the service of God and God’s creation

Should we ask God to take our lives, bless our lives, break our lives and give our lives following this Eucharistic pattern?  In being broken our lives can be shared with others.

Hopefully, in living our lives in this model, the risen Christ will be revealed to those we meet.

+Ab. Jane