In the midst of the strangest Easter season I have ever experienced comes the familiar story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As I have mentioned before in these reflections, I have always viewed biblical figures as ordinary folks (like you and me) who are witness to things that are extra-ordinary. Some are able to see the significance of the moment immediately and others only in hindsight. As we meet the two disciples walking and talking along the road to Emmaus, I would invite you to think of yourself and another person close to you out for a walk when a stranger stops (six feet away) to say “Hi”. In the course of your conversation, you mention something of the current pandemic, to which this person immediately replies: “What pandemic?” If we can imagine this scenario, I think it gives us a sense of the impression these two disciples would have of this stranger when he asks “What things?” The fact that they continued to listen to him is remarkable, to say the least.
Let’s think for a minute of the space these two disciples would have been in that day as they were leaving Jerusalem. Their life turned upside down; everything they had believed in or hoped for, seemingly destroyed. And, although we are not told this in the story, I think worst of all, they had lost all their hope. Now, let’s see what space we are in today with everything that’s happening.
A quick recap of the happenings of 2020 so far, which is only 111 days old as I sit to write this: assassination of an Iranian General by the United States; Ukraine flight shot down; Australian bush fires; UK’s exit from the European Union; Donald Trump impeachment trial; Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic and all that has gone with that; and now, the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. I don’t know about you, but for me, this is a time when gathering with my faith community would really be helpful. I think I am starting to understand the dismay of the disciples.
Yet, into all
of this turmoil, Jesus comes along and walks beside them to provide much needed
comfort. But before he starts to talk,
he invites them to tell their story; to name why they are where they are. I don’t want to skip over this because I
think it’s important for us to name what exactly it is we are feeling
each day. I feel that naming it, saying it in our prayer, acknowledging the anxiety, somehow helps us begin the journey to healing. Jesus walks with us always, just as he promised. But, that doesn’t mean he is going to rid our lives of all problems. What it does mean is that we have an anchor. Someone we can hold on to when the waves are crashing in from all sides. Someone who assures us that no matter how rough the waters, this boat is not going down.
Jesus did not fix all the problems of these two disciples. He did not change what had happened. Their life didn’t become magically easier nor did the lives of any of the early Christians. Yet, he gave them joy. He gave them purpose. He gave them a renewed resolve to carry on in the midst of the uncertainty of that first Easter season. He can and will do the same for us. Just like the Last Supper, and the meal we hear about today, he will take (choose) us, bless us, break us (from our anxiety and fear) and he will give us to others to provide peace.
In each of these trying days, I pray that we may all know the peace and joy of the risen Christ in our lives.