Thursday the Octave of Easter
Luke 24: 13-48
That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Thursday in the Octave of Easter. We are meant to be rejoicing in a big way right now. The season of Easter is 50 days long. That’s ten days longer than Lent! Our liturgical seasons are prayerfully crafted, Holy Spirit inspired, and purposeful. We are meant to be celebrating 10 days longer than we refine because God loves us, and rejoices with us in His Son’s resurrection. Love has conquered death.
The Octave of Easter is particularly ecstatic. These are the days dedicated to focussing our hearts on the work that God has already accomplished through His Son; and the benefits we reap as His children, abiding in His love, awaiting His complete envelopment.
I know I’m not alone when I admit I’m feeling a lot more like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Lost, sad, disappointed, grieving and even a little desolate. In this time of unrest I know at times my eyes are preventing me from recognizing Jesus in my midst.
Like millions and millions of other parents, I am juggling the new demands of full-time work from home (whatever that means?!), trauma-homeschooling, domestic engineering on steroids, and a fundamentally introverted personality pushing up against a 24/7 reality of people in my space. It’s challenging, I’m not feeling much like rejoicing. It isn’t feeling much like Easter.
However, I can hear God’s still small voice inside me saying, “How foolish are you? How slow of heart?”. I know, love, and believe God’s promise. How foolish am I?
A few days ago at lunch, while my husband zoom-taught singing lessons in the our music room, my nine year old son said to me: “I hate coronavirus, but I’ve noticed that now we are so much closer. When this is over I still feel like we will be closer.” Later that evening, as I lay in bed I imagined Jesus repeating those same words to me: “I hate what is happening for my world right now, but I’ve noticed we are much closer. Have you noticed? I feel like when this is over we are still going to be closer. Do you think that Kelly?”
My heart was burning in that moment. The joy of that moment. It wasn’t big joy. It was an intimate joy. Jesus reminds me in those moments that I am His bride. Jesus is so good to remind us, like on that walk to Emmaus, of everything that is promised.
Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice. It bears repeating. It needs emphasis, because the reality of the spiritual life is that our joy can flourish despite trying circumstances. Paul wrote that from prison. I bet his joy was not big. I bet his joy was intimate.
So today friends, let’s rejoice in ways big and small. Let’s rejoice in a moment in time when God might just be more present to us than ever; despite our distance from the breaking of the bread.