1.Acts 2:14,32-33
2.1Pet 1:17-21
Gospel:  Luke 24:13-35

                " Meeting Jesus in the stranger"

Dear brothers and sisters in our today's readings more especially the gospel we hear that two depressed disciples leave the company of the apostles and believers in Jerusalem and head for Emmaus to get away from it all. That same day, late in the evening , they come right back to rejoin the company of apostles and believers that had abandoned earlier in the day, full of joy and zeal. We can pose one question here that what happened to them to give rise to this dramatic turnaround? They met a stranger on the way- a stranger on the way who did not quite look like Jesus but who turned out to be Jesus after all.

There is the earliest saying that most parents used to pass on to their children, " never speak to strangers!" Yet when you think about this deeply you may realize that if Cleopas and his companion would have followed this advice, then Jesus would have passed them by and they would never have had the transforming encounter with the risen Lord. On our part who knows how many times the risen Lord has passed you and me by and we did not recognize him or experience his transforming grace all because of our fear or strangers?

Cleopas and his friend were trying to distance themselves from the scandalous disaster that befell the apostles and followers of Jesus with the shameful death of their Master at the hands of the very Roman Soldiers that they thought he had come to vanquish. However, as they tried to get away from it, they could not get their minds off it. They talking that incident all the way long. Could you imagine the sort of mood they were as they headed for unknown future in Emmaus? It was disappointment, sadness and deep depression all at once.

The two disciples, Cleopas and his companion shared with the stranger all the way through. Not only were they ready to share their confidences with him, but they went all the way and shared their meal and shelter with him. In sharing a meal with them Jesus celebrates a Eucharist, which Luke the evangelist calls a " breaking of bread." For the two disciples are not the apostles. On the other hand they constitute, as two adult men, sufficient witness according to  the Mosaic Law for the word to have religious value. They are in a position to testify officially that after "breaking of the bread with them," i.e, after celebrating Eucharist with them Jesus disappeared. The message from this event is that the ordinary followers of Jesus are to maintain contact with Him after his resurrection through the Eucharist.  

It was in the process of this sharing that the moment of disclosure occurred and they suddenly realized that one whom they had accepted all along as helpless stranger was indeed Jesus, the answer to all their heart's questions. This discovery that the one in whom they had trusted, Jesus Christ, was indeed alive and not dead, gave new meaning  to their lives, their faith and their vocation. Banishing all fear and fatigue they got up and went back that same night to rejoin the company of apostles and followers of Jesus and share the good news with them that they had met the risen Lord and that they met him in the person of a stranger.

The resurrection was for Jesus the dividing line between earthly life when he was limited to the form of a male, Jewish body and risen life when he is no longer limited in this way. The risen  Lord appears in all types of bodies: male and female, white and black, young and old, rich and poor, handicapped and non-handicapped, native and imigrant,Catholic and Protestant, Christian and Moslem, liberal and conservative and so on and so forth. Though we may see those who are different from us as strangers, from today's gospel we are challenged to start seeing them simply as companions on the way. When we reach out to them in hospitality we reach out to God and attract a blessing to ourselves.

Dear brethren let us pray today for the grace to overcome the crippling fear of strangers, for the courage to reach out with open hearts and open hands to those who are different from us, knowing that even though the strangers on our way may not look like Jesus, they may indeed turn out to be Jesus just like  the lonely stranger on the way to Emmaus.

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Chapisha Maoni