They weren’t looking for Jesus. They were sure he was lost forever. And then he was there with them… walking and talking, explaining scripture, opening doors to spirituality. He moved with them so easily, so unobtrusively that they did not recognize the risen Savior until he revealed himself in the breaking of the bread.
Could this week’s gospel be any clearer? The risen Christ is with us always… all through the day, in every one we meet. But too often, he goes unrecognized. He is only a Sunday presence at best… here for the breaking of the bread and then ignored in our self-absorption. That’s not God’s plan. We are meant to live in the risen Christ… continually, not spasmodically… actively, not abstractly.
Look around you. We are surrounded by cell phones, cable boxes, PCs, DVRs, remotes. Most indicate their active status by a glowing red light. It tells us that the device is on. It’s active. It’s engaged. It’s ready to receive. Sometimes I wish our souls came with a little red light that tells us when it’s on, when we’re ready to receive. Jesus is in our midst constantly. He promises us: Behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. He’s here, but too often we don’t see him. Our red light is off. To see Jesus, to recognize him, we need to be engaged. It’s not a painful or even a particularly difficult task, but it does take practice. It takes a daily, conscious effort to connect with Christ and to stay connected throughout the day, looking for opportunities to share his love.
The formula for this is simple. It’s called prayer. Part of it is spoken. But most of it is lived. Welcome-in your day with Jesus. Give him your concerns and anxieties. Share your joy with him. Ask him to help work out your resentments and to forgive your lapses. Unlike even the most advanced electronic devices, the more you are turned on to Jesus, the more you are spiritually recharged, and the brighter your light shines.
It is not enough that we are alert to Christ in our midst. It is not enough that we recognize him. It is not even enough that we look for Christ in others. We must show the world that the risen Christ lives in us, too. We must actively witness his love. Our lives must be clear proof of the Resurrection.
Significantly, the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. For two-thousand years the Eucharist has been our portal of Communion with the risen Christ. In it we consume in microcosm the entire mystery of the redemption… the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. In it we are joined not in a metaphorical Body of Christ, but in a palpable presence. Jesus is with us. Jesus is in us.
What are we doing today to look for him, to see him, to recognize him… to welcome him? For many, these are the questions that define our lives. They are built reflexively into our day. For others they are unfamiliar, awkward, uncomfortable. But for all of us, there is one simple constant: Jesus is in our midst. What are we going to do about it? True to the Father and true to the promises he has made, we need only to look for him. We need only engage. He is in our midst… in love, in peace, in power… only a prayer away.
The Reverend David Sellery, Author, Resource Creator and Retreat Leader. Committed to a vocation that focuses on encountering God in the midst of everyday life, I serve as an Episcopal priest who seeks to proclaim the good news of God in Christ in worship, pastoral care, education, stewardship, congregational development and community outreach, while continually engaging our wider culture with dynamism and hope.