OPENING OUR LIVES TO STRANGERS
Extraordinary things can happen if we open ourselves to the presence of a stranger or “foreigner” on the road of life. That seems to be a key element in today’s gospel passage from the well-known and well-loved Emmaus story. Imagine two dejected disciples on the road back from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus they encounter Jesus who has been raised. They fail to recognise him. Their sadness at his violent death has blinded them to the significance of the women’s account of the empty tomb.
Jesus engages them in conversation and holds up a metaphorical mirror to their experience of loss and grief. They invite him to share a meal with them and their eyes are opened: they recognise him in the blessing and breaking of the bread they share with him. He disappears from their midst. They cannot contain the joy they have experienced in realising that Jesus is alive and once more present to them, but in a new and transforming way.
Cleopas and partner go straight back to Jerusalem to share this good news with the other disciples. Now all the assembled disciples experience powerfully the presence of Jesus in their midst. They too pass over the women’s story; it is the appearance to Peter of the resurrected Jesus that is the ground of their new faith. . They will not only understand Jesus’ death and resurrection in the light of the scriptures. They will be “clothed with power from on high” to exercise their role as witnesses to this great mystery.
Extraordinary things can happen to those who are hospitable enough to “break bread” with “foreigners” in whom they do not immediately recognise God’s presence. If we open our hearts and our homes to those who seek a welcome on our shores, we might come to participate a little more deeply in the joy of the resurrection.
Excerpted from the Gospel Reflection by Mercy Sister Veronica Lawson available at Catholic Religious Australia.