Through Hospitality, We Recognize Jesus
Two disciples encountered a stranger on the road to Emmaus. Though weary with grief, they walked and talked with him the whole way. Then, as Jesus had taught them, hospitality rose up inside them and they urged the stranger to stay with them. Even before Jesus revealed himself to them, they revealed Jesus within them to him. They might have missed the opportunity to see him, but they took the road of welcome instead. When Jesus broke the bread and they shared together the meal they had last shared together – the meal of the new covenant – their eyes were opened and they saw Jesus in their midst.
Every time we share hospitality with one another, Jesus is revealed to us. My family lives in a quiet neighborhood in suburbia. Since we moved in 8 years ago, we have opened our doors to all the kids in the neighborhood. At first they came to play with our kids. As they grew older and developed relationships with all of us, they now come to hang out at the house, even when our kids aren’t home. We have a 5-person family, but my dinner table serves 6-12 nearly every night. In the midst of the chaos and the piles of dishes, some nights I wish they would all just go home. But then I look into their faces and their hearts and I realize they bring Jesus to my dinner table. By extending hospitality to them, Jesus is actually revealed to me through them. My gift of hospitality is not as much a gift for them as it is a gift to me. They bring the gift of noise and mess, of love and trust, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Luke 24:13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.