On the Road

Here’s why years from now you will most assuredly not be praying for the intercession of St. Kris: I get caught up in the wrong things when it comes to the bible and completely miss the point. You know, the REAL point.

Take the story of the two fellows walking down the road to Emmaus on the third day after Jesus died. They’re heading to the village which is seven miles from Jerusalem, and are shooting the breeze about what the two women had told them about the body no longer being in the tomb.  Suddenly they are approached by a stranger. So here’s Missing The Point I: Why didn’t they recognize him? Luke says their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. In fact, it wasn’t until they had persuaded him to spend the night at their house, during which time he once again blessed bread, broke bread, and shared bread that they realized who he was. It seems to me – pitiful human that I am – that rather than preventing them from recognizing him, it would have been a more efficient use of time to just allow them to know who he is right off the bat.

Break bread, bless bread, eat bread.

And then, when they realize that it is Jesus, he vanishes. Poof. Bummer.

So they immediately set out again to Jerusalem. Luke says so they set out at once. Missing The Point II: That, in and of itself, isn’t too surprising. After all, had my friend who I had seen die right before my eyes come back and make himself known to me, I would want to tell somebody ASAP. But it’s seven miles, and they had walked seven miles just a short time earlier. Well, good on them, I guess. As for me, my hip starts hurting after a mile-and-a-half or so.

It’s at this point that yesterday’s gospel picked up the story. These two fellows get back to Jerusalem and immediately tell their friends what had happened. About that time, who should appear again? Jesus. They are all understandably afraid and think they are seeing a ghost. To calm them down, Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you.”

Now that makes sense even to me. Jesus is telling them (and us) that whenever we are afraid, we should put our fears aside and feel peace, because he is with us and will take care of us. But then Jesus says something that completely throws me off my spiritual game. Missing The Point III: He asks them if they have anything to eat. Did it throw Peter and his buddies off their game as well? Did they ask themselves – as I did – why on earth do you want to eat right this minute?

But unlike me, the disciples did not sigh loudly and roll their eyes. They instead gave him a piece of baked fish, which he proceeded to eat. And that, my friends, was that for me. I spent the remainder of the Mass wondering why Jesus felt the need for a bite to eat right then. And perhaps as puzzlingly, why did St. Luke feel that point was important enough to put into his gospel?

As we drove home after Mass, I asked Bill that question. Why did Jesus ask for something to eat? To prove to the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost, was Bill’s take on the matter.

I guess I have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight. It’s interesting to think about how startling – terrifying, really – it must have been for Jesus’ followers to see him walking around when they had taken him down from the cross and buried him themselves only a few days earlier. And now here he was walking around showing them his wounds and eating with them.

And maybe that’s the point. They really shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, Jesus himself points out to them that his birth, death, and resurrection had been prophesized for hundreds of years. They had all studied their Torahs. They knew what to expect.

But despite that, without 2000 years of hindsight, it must have been hard to understand the whole business. Quite frankly, even with the benefit of 2000 years of explanation, it’s still hard to understand.

That’s where faith comes in.