Readings: Acts 2:14, 22-13; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
Today’s Gospel is one of the fundamental texts of the Church’s experience of God, as valid today as when it was first penned and heard roughly two-thousand years ago.
This year I’m struck by the amount of information Cleopas and his friend know about Jesus. But what good does it do them? Even news from some women from their group that Jesus was alive fails to calm their upset.
They are like us: collecting information that makes life no better. They can’t even recognize Jesus talking with them.
One reaction is to say that little has changed in two-thousand years. A very different reaction is to hope that little has changed, because this encounter changes their lives.
Have you noticed that this is one resurrection story in which Jesus does not say, fear not? It’s too late for that. These guys are wading in their worst fears: Jesus’ promising life and ministry have led to nothing. So Jesus meets them there. Perhaps that’s why they can listen: they can’t escape their fear.
Now that has changed in two-thousand years: we’ve become experts at evading our fears. That’s what we call denial. We are so afraid of fear that we invent escapes and self-justifications to avoid it. Courage, which we dismiss as imprudent, has little currency in our world.
Today’s Gospel challenges that and implies that when we are wading through our fears then, indeed, is the Lord Jesus walking with us. We don’t have to stop moving; we just have to listen, keep the conversation going.
How Jesus loves these disciples! He is patient, he is courteous, leaving the initiative to them; he is challenging as much as he is illuminating; he meets them at their own level. He gives them the chance to move on. When they open up to invite him in, he makes time for them.
And yet, he doesn’t overstay his welcome. He doesn’t do their work for them. Once they recognize him in the breaking of the bread, he goes; without having to be told, they leave to proclaim his resurrection.
Is there any reason this couldn’t be our story?