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Eastertide: Anything but Common

Image: Richard Stovall

The faithful have made it through the fasting and prayer of Lent and experienced the intense spiritual remembrances of the Triduum, consisting of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Now what? 

In many Christian traditions the Easter season lasts for seven weeks and culminates with Pentecost. On that first Sunday of Eastertide, there was no shortage of confusion, fear and uncertainty as the followers of Jesus attempted to find a logical explanation for an empty tomb with some of his followers reporting talking angels saying Jesus was alive. Jesus appeared several times to many after this but for now the entire incident was a mystery that could place Jesus’s followers in conflict with both the religious and Roman authorities who orchestrated his execution.

Perhaps that is why Cleopas and his friend decided to take a walk to Emmaus and sort out all their disappointments and dashed hopes. In Luke’s gospel they tell this “stranger” they meet on the road that they had hoped Jesus was the messiah and would rescue Israel from the tyranny of Roman occupation. In fact, some of the disciples were trying to jostle for a position in the new Kingdom that Jesus kept telling them was soon to be a reality. It seems from their perspective the Kingdom of God was to be one of power that would bring freedom and prosperity and safety to Israel. However, despite the reports of the women, Jesus was dead and his body was probably stolen to give his followers a hope that was not to be. 

Interestingly the stranger” does not join them in their disappointment and grief, but begins lovingly reprimanding them while explaining what the scriptures say about this very event. They listen and as evening descends they invite the “stranger” to have dinner with them in their home and stay overnight.  

We have two common people living in a common house in small-town Emmaus who extend a common gesture of hospitality to a person they don’t really know. Reclining to eat a common meal the “stranger” boldly takes the common bread and blesses it and breaks it and gives it to Cleopas and his friend. In this common act of breaking bread the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is revealed and is gone. Even prior to this revelation, they felt a strange warmness within as Jesus explained the scriptural references to what took place in Jerusalem during the previous three days.  

I do not think the two from Emmaus got any sleep that night since they turned back to Jerusalem with a new perspective of hope and joy to tell the others what happened over breaking a simple loaf of bread. On returning they learned Jesus had also appeared to Peter and while they were telling their stories, Jesus appeared and they thought he was a ghost!  Once again Jesus lovingly reprimands his followers and explains the reasons for what he experienced. 

The Kingdom of God is not a place of privileged access. There is no palace to enter, no coronation to attend, no protocol to follow—just a human being who was raised from the dead and whose message is peace. There is Life for all in the Kingdom of God! Bask in the continued miracle of the Eastertide season.

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