Thought of the week - 23 April
It must have been very frustrating, being Christ after the resurrection. Think about it – you’ve accomplished the great saving deed which had been yearned for since the Exile, you had overcome (agonisingly) death, opened the gates of heaven, appeared to your followers (who had all run away previously) and nobody had really noticed – at least, not in the way you might have hoped, but in a gossipy, Coronation Street way (oooh, have you heard, Jesus is back). Today we encounter two of them merrily toddling off to Emmaus while gossiping about Him while on the road, and He catches up with them, cajoling, asking them what is going on ‘any news?’ ‘oh, just that Jesus is back…..so they say’. If you or I were He, maybe there might have been just the tiniest flash of divine power at that moment, but no, He just keeps them company, walks with them, teaches them and then disappears just as they begin to realise who he is. It’s a very complex encounter with the Divine, but one which is played out maybe frequently for us – how often do we receive communion without really thinking about what we are doing, about what we consume, about what is becoming part of us?
Like the Disciples walking to Emmaus, we are still on pilgrimage in that we have not yet arrived at the truth. We need, in a sense, to be like those disciples whose “eyes were kept from recognizing him”. While “we walk by faith and not by sight”, we cannot cope with seeing Jesus’ true glory. But we do have pointers to nourish faith; it’s in those pointers that we recognize Jesus. There are the events themselves of Jesus’ life, Death and Resurrection, and the witnesses’ testimony which has come down to us in Scripture and Tradition. There is the whole body of Scripture, which Jesus the Divine Wisdom helps us understand. There is The Breaking of the Bread, the Holy Eucharist, the great Sign of Jesus’ friendship, the way in which the Risen Jesus is with us most powerfully – and, like all Sacraments, it must veil the one it reveals because He chooses to come to us in signs and subtle encounter, lest we begin to chose to be disciples, instead of gradually understanding that He chooses us.
It would be frustrating for us if we were Christ, after the resurrection, because maybe we would not walk alongside these disciples, but stand in front of them and say, piqued, ‘don’t you recognise me, you ninnies?’. This is not the way of God, for whom time and seasons have no meaning, and it further draws us into the eternal mystery of the infinite Easter which we are called to wear like a cloak, enveloping us and allowing ourselves to be lost in the great mystery, which calls us by name, accompanies us on our pilgrimage and stretches our minds to encompass a future potentiality where there is infinity – of love, of hope and of peace.
In the meantime, let us sing ‘Alleluia’ and keep on walking.