EASTER III (A)
Were our hearts not burning within us while he … opened the Scriptures to us? – Luke 24: 32
Failure to recognize the divine presence in our lives is all too common, even among those who profess to be believing Christians. In our preoccupation with the gritty, day to day realities of life we overlook God sometimes even when He is staring us in the face. Passages of Scripture become so familiar that we take them for granted & just glaze over when we hear them. Yet seemingly out of the blue, a particular passage can take on a very different meaning & we see it in a new light. Sometimes this phenomenon can have the effect of a revelation. Let me illustrate with a true story:
A man named Tom Long was once asked to be a speaker at a conference. On the plane headed home, he sat next to an older man who had also been at the conference, & they struck up a conversation. At one point, the man told Tom that he & his wife were the parents of several children, one of them a son in his thirties who was confined to a nursing home. This son had been injured badly in an auto accident several years before & he was in a permanent comatose state.
The man startled Tom when he said, “We stopped loving our son. We visited him every week because it was our duty as parents, but we had stopped loving him. Love is a reciprocal relationship, giving & receiving. Our son could not receive, our son could not give. We went to see him, but we had stopped loving him, until one day when we went to visit our son.
“We were surprised that he already had a visitor in his room. We did not know this person; he was a stranger. It turned out that this man was a communion minister from the local parish who routinely visited patients in the nursing home. As we waited outside in the hall, we saw this visitor talking to our son, like they were engaged in a conversation. I thought to myself, ‘As if my son could appreciate a conversation.’
“Then the man took out a Bible & read my son a psalm – as if my son could appreciate a psalm. Then he prayed a prayer as if my son could appreciate a prayer. And then he gave him communion as if my son could appreciate that.
“And then it dawned on me that this man does know. Of course, he knows. He sees my son not simply through clinical eyes, but through the eyes of faith; he treats my son as a child of God.”
This was a moment of grace for the man with the son, an Easter scene. The communion minister was the stranger on the road to Emmaus, revealing the presence of God. God who loves us deliriously, is in our lives & cares about us. Sometimes, it’s a matter of practice to be able to discern Him.
In the simple breaking of bread, in the care of a comatose son, in those eureka moments when a passage of Scripture takes on a whole new meaning for us, in the routine goings & comings of our life on our own road to Emmaus, the Stranger – who is no stranger – is there. Strange as it may seem sometimes, He actually loves us. AMEN!