Scripture: Luke 24:13-35
Key verse: (32) “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Reflection: Have you ever found yourself walking in the wake of dreams dashed, returning to life as it had been, resigned to the realities of the world as it is? Such times bring us closer to where Cleopas and his companion were at the beginning of today’s gospel reading from Luke. They are returning from the tragic end of what must have been an amazing journey. They had witnessed Jesus feed 5,000 with a few loaves and a couple of fish, calm stormy seas with a world, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. They dreamed of a new day, the promised coming of the kingdom of God. But all that came to a crushing end with Jesus’ execution by the Romans at the behest of the religious leaders of his day. He had been crucified, and all their hopes and dreams surely died with him. In today’s reading they are heading home, “talking about all these things that had happened,” no doubt resigned to the world as it had always been.
Their reminiscing is interrupted by a stranger who approaches and asks, “What are you talking about?” How could this stranger not know about all that had happened? They recount the events of Holy Week, the joy of Palm Sunday, the fear of Maundy Thursday, the unthinkable pain of Good Friday. How does the stranger respond? Does he say, “I’m so sorry. That must be very hard for you”? Does he say, “Gosh, that’s horrible. How does that make you feel?” Or how about, “What does this loss mean for you? How do you see yourself moving forward?” Does he ask any of these insightfully pastoral questions? No. What does he say? “‘Fools!” Not exactly a pastoral response! He then launches into a Bible study right there on the road to Emmaus, recounting how the Scriptures predicted that God’s chosen servant would suffer and be rejected before entering his glory. After the stranger opens their understanding of Scripture, they invite him to stay with them and have some supper. At supper, the guest becomes the host, taking the bread, blessing it, breaking it, and their eyes are opened to see the Risen Christ.
The stranger opened their eyes to a new possibility — resurrection. Resurrection is not resuscitation, not a return to what had been. Resurrection is about transformation. True transformation only comes on the other side of a cross. That’s what the Risen Christ helped Cleopas and his companion see. Though they did not realize their dreams, they now caught a glimpse of a new creation beyond anything they could have imagined. Christ had conquered even death. He was risen, on the loose. Anything could happen! New life was found on the other side of that cross. In the midst of our changing world too often filled with crosses that bring the end of the world as we have known it, may our hearts be opened to hear the gospel anew from those who may be strangers to us, that our eyes might be open to see the risen Christ in our midst, calling us from tombs of death to embrace the Easter proclamation at the heart of our faith, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” By the grace of God, so are we!
Prayer: Living God, give me ears to hear your gospel from those who may be strangers to me. Give me eyes to see your power for new life working in the world, that my heart might burn with the fire only you can bring, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].