There is both hope and challenge for us in today’s gospel account of two disciples of Jesus journey to Emmaus. The hope being that we will see the risen Lord. The challenge being how we will see the risen Lord. We easily acknowledge Christ on the cross in church, but find it more difficult to recognize Christ when he comes into our everyday lives.
The disciples on the road to Emmaus in today’s Gospel did not recognize the risen Christ even though they had followed him, seen him perform miracles, and heard him preach. His appearance was not the same. Only the breaking of the bread opened their eyes. Mary Magdalene thought the risen Christ was the gardener on Easter morning until he spoke her name. The disciples on resurrection night in Jerusalem thought they were seeing a ghost until Jesus showed them the wounds of his crucifixion. The disciples did not recognize the risen Christ at the sea shore in Galilee until the marvelous catch of fish. So what prevents us from recognizing Jesus disguised in our everyday lives? As I mentioned, we easily recognize him in church, and in the Eucharist. Perhaps this time of church closures and “stay at home” order, Jesus is calling us to recognize him beyond what we already know and long for. Christ comes into our everyday lives, disguised as our family members, our co-workers, or drivers on the road. And we are called to serve the Christ disguised in our everyday lives. If we truly believed that every act of kindness we do for another we do for Christ, how would our actions change? How different our world would be! Recognizing Christ requires a response. Could you refuse a Christ needing a winter coat or a fan to cool himself in the summer? If Christ were mentally challenged or mentally ill, would you support a tax to provide services? Do you treat your employer as Christ? Your employees? What about our treatment of poor people or refugees? Who would we refuse at our borders? The solutions may not be simple, but our criteria for judging need to be Christ-centered. What about the neighbor whose dog barks incessantly, or the ones who don’t care for their lawn as we would? What about someone who cuts you off when changing lanes on the highway or takes 25 items into the fast lane at the grocery store? Hard to see Christ in them, huh? But we are more apt to see Christ in others if we try to be Christ to others! Dorothy Day once said, “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” Something to think about!
Have a blessed Easter Season!