AT THIS time of the year we are presented with scriptural readings associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Importantly we are also given insights into the reactions of his followers. One of these is Luke’s account concerning Cleopas and companion (wife?) heading home in disappointment and bewilderment.
Jesus is dead, their personal and national hopes are eroded. They endeavour to heal their devastation through sharing the failure and what had been their hopes as they walk along.
Part of their hopelessness comes about because of their preconceived ideas about who God was expected to be for them.
We all tend to place others including God into a box within our mind, and if expectations do not come up to what we believe, sadness and despair often set in.
In this story unbeknown to them both, the presence of the risen Jesus is at their side. Intrigued by what they are hearing from a stranger, hospitality is offered and, in a scriptural scene reminiscent of their faith father Abraham offering hospitality to three ‘strangers’ the invitation is accepted.
As Brendan Byrne, S. J. reminds us, Luke’s gospel is sharing the story of the hospitality of God. Cleopas and companion’s invitation led to “hearts burning within us” and the realization that life is blessed or riddled with the presence of God, often in times of personal bewilderment.
In offering hospitality these two discover an awareness signified through a breaking open and handing over, an invitation to bring fellow journeyers into a community where inner peace is experienced in giving self that others might discover life.
For some of us, these preconceived ideas about what life should be like for us in Australia makes it difficult to cope positively with what is happening around us.
We tend to forget how people in other parts of our globe are often challenged to exist and, perhaps we need to learn how to sit with life enjoying spiritual growth before we make rash judgements about who God is and how God should act.
This Easter story portrays how we are all invited to bring our disappointments, apparent failures, and eradicated hopes to the One walking with us on the road of life.
The struggling journey of the two is given light and hope through the offering of hospitality to a stranger, and as it turns out a stranger prepared to share the bread of life — the presence of God.
We are asked to listen for His voice, too often heard in places and from people most unexpected. As Tom Wright, Anglican Bishop teaches, the first meal in the Bible, some fruit ate by Eve and her husband leads to a realisation of their nakedness or complete need of God.
Luke echoing that story describes the first meal of the new creation. He took the bread, blessed it, and gave it to them; then the eyes of them both were opened, and they recognized him.
The long curse has been broken, death itself has been defeated, God’s new creation has burst in upon the world.
Des Welladsen, St Mary’s Catholic Parish