May 04, 2011
“Are you the only person who doesn’t know what’s been going on for the past few days?” Apparently Jesus had not been reading Facebook. Or listening to NPR. Or reading the newspaper.
Seriously—how could this guy not know what’s been happening? In the last few days the whole world has been in an uproar over the death of one man. Some people thought he should be killed. Others mourned his loss. Others didn’t know what to think.
Sound familiar? One man, killed at the hands of the government, whom many religious people were glad to see murdered.
The death of Osama bin Laden has dominated discourse over the past week. In the wake of his death, some people are throwing parties, some are ready to break out the duct tape and plastic sheeting, and the rest of us are watching the world go mad. Again.
Jesus asks the two disciples to explain “what things” have been happening in Jerusalem. They get most of it right, and even offer a nice little testimony, but they have missed the Scriptural connection that Jesus has been trying to lay out for them all along. He starts back at the beginning, with Moses and the prophets and interprets—again—the words of Scripture. He has to re-narrate their framework, even though they were the ones closest to him while he was living.
While there have been many faithful and articulate reflections on the events of May 1, it’s the on-the-ground comments from Christians that I find most interesting—the posts on Facebook which fall under the category of “I know what the Bible says about murder, but…” It seems to me that disciples these days are still walking down the Emmaus road. We’ve heard the words of Scripture, but in the midst of a host of emotions running high, we can’t bring them to bear upon our lives, can’t quite get them to connect with what’s going on. Having heard those words over and over again, they should be worked deep down into the soil of our souls, yet we can so easily dismiss them with one little conjunction.
So it’s probably good that we are still on the road to Emmaus, because the road ends at the dinner table. That’s where God, in God’s infinite wisdom, decided that we could take the Word into us, if hearing the Word didn’t do the trick. God made flesh made bread and wine.
“He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3)
My friend tells me that the Rev. Dr. Bill Turner has said, “Christians do not rejoice at the death of murderers. Christians rejoice at the death of saints." As we gather around the table with the communion of saints, may we let the Eucharist remind us of the right things for which we ought to give thanks. Let us rejoice at the sacrificial love of the One who offered to let himself be broken for us instead of rejoicing that the American military has broken another.