Our reading for this first Sunday of Easter is that of the Emmaus Road experience.
When you are involved in a particular event or group of people sometimes your focus can become very narrow and you can wonder why other people don’t know or feel the same way about that event or person as you do. We hear this from the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as they are amazed that this traveller doesn’t know what had happened in Jerusalem with their friend and teacher Jesus. Surely everyone knew?
We can also marvel that they did not recognise Jesus as he joined them on their journey, nor did they connect the way this man spoke and interpreted the scriptures for them with the way Jesus spoke and had taught them.
What we do see is in the simple act of hospitality, fellowship, companionship and relationship that the eyes of Cleopas and his friend (some scholars think it may have been his wife) are opened and Jesus is revealed. Even though the risen Christ walks and talks with them, speaks and teaches, and it’s in this most essential physical movement of breaking bread that they finally see who he is. It’s easy to imagine how the disciples recognise Jesus in a gesture at the table. The breaking of bread is a movement of the hands and heart that they’ve seen dozens of times before.
All through his life, people complain that he eats with sinners and tax collectors. Bruce Chilton, in his imaginative book Rabbi Jesus suggests that Jesus “developed the practice of holy feasts into an art form.” Village life, the harvest, the completion of projects, and marriages all involved celebrations and feasts, of various sizes, depending on the importance of the occasion. Jesus understood the power of the spirit at work when people gather, and used the feasts to teach, to pray, to tell stories, and to connect people with each other. Here he does it one more time.
We all know the importance of companionship, hospitality, fellowship and relationship. As we welcome people into our space all of these aspects that Jesus shows us come into action. Our response to Easter morning and the risen Christ is to go into the world and share the Good News!