Hello, my friends,
On the way to church, I saw a person walking with no shirt on and another with flip flops, a muscle shirt, and shorts. I am also noticing that people are dressing lighter. Since coming to BC, I have seen people’s enthusiasm to wear summer clothing as soon as there is a hint of warm weather, even if “warm” means 12c! I always thought this was great optimism (at least in the weather). But, in fairness, the weather reports are all calling for temperatures in the high 20s!
The sun is shining, the reports of high temperatures, and the trees and flowers are blooming are all signs of warm weather coming. It’s hard not to feel optimistic in the face of all this.
In last week’s gospel reading (Luke 24:13-35), Cleopas and a companion walked the long road back to Emmaus from Jerusalem. It was late Easter morning, and they were leaving Jerusalem not optimistic but dejected and disappointed. Jesus, the hoped-for messiah, was dead, yes, they heard that people had seen Jesus, but they regarded all this as tall tales. In their disappointment, they misinterpret the signs around them. The sun was shining, and there was newness around them. But for Cleopas and his companion, it might as well have been pouring rain.
When a stranger begins to walk with them, they are so caught up in their dejection that they don’t recognise Jesus. He knows their feelings and disappointment but is not dissuaded or put off. Jesus meets us where we are, even if we are disappointed in him. When Jesus breaks the bread and gives it to Cleopas and his companion, they recognise Jesus. When they do, Jesus immediately disappears, or does he?
When Jesus appears to the two and walks with them opening their eyes with the teaching, the final culmination comes when he offers himself in the bread; in that simple gesture, Jesus becomes internalised in the two. He is no longer outside them but in them. The act of hospitality, breaking bread and honouring the stranger is how we begin to see Jesus all around us in our neighbours, and this is the internalised teaching we have received from Christ Jesus.
As we look to next Sunday’s gospel reading (John 10:1-10), we are reminded that Jesus is the Good Shepard and will lead us to green pastures and still waters. The Good Shepard leads and protects his sheep, and we, as Christians know his voice; even though we may sometime choose not to follow, we still feel the inner urge to respond. Just as with Cleopas and his companion, Jesus reaches out to us and calls us by name to come back to the fold. In the Good Shepherd’s eyes, we have never left but are distracted by what makes us fragile and entirely human – our intentions and expectations.
At one time or another, we have all been on the road to Emmaus, nursing our grievances and disappointment, wondering, “Why?” In those times, Jesus walks with us. We may not recognise him or his voice immediately because of our distress, be he is there. As we move through the week, let us not forget God working around us and the manifestations of hope and optimism. Let’s dare to break out the summer clothes!