Yesterday I spoke of the voice in addition to sight as a mechanism for recognition. Today the gospel (LK 24:13-35) tells the wonderful story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Once again Jesus was unrecognizable in his resurrection body and this time he spent quite a long time teaching his two companions about what we call “salvation history” without them catching on to who he was. Many see this story as one of hospitality on the part of the disciples because when they reached their destination, they invited Jesus to stay with them since it was getting late and he seemed inclined to travel further. Their kindness was certainly rewarded when he “took bread, blessed it and gave it to them” – an action reminiscent of their last meal together before he suffered. That action was the impetus for recognition. Sadly, he vanished from their sight at that moment.
I think there are two calls for attention in this scene, both verified perhaps in our own experience. When I’m with my siblings, occasionally my brother will just move in a certain way or walk away from us and instantly our father is present in his manner or his gait. Although my friend, Dolores, passed from this life nearly ten years ago I can still see and feel her hands at certain moments, as they held such generosity and gentleness in their touch. These are examples of the more physical triggers for recognition. The second moment of the disciples’ experience was known only in retrospect. After Jesus disappeared from their presence, one asked the other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way…?” If we learn to pay attention to the subtle energetic messages in our bodies – from our hearts – perhaps we will be more likely to catch the presence of God in the moment and invite God to stay with us more often. It can happen in moments of deep conversation with others as well as in times of silence and prayer. And, if we practice that kind of awareness, maybe – just maybe – we won’t miss the moment and God will settle in with us and stay the night.