Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I Never Noticed This Either #2


 

Last night I attended a mission at Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville, SC. The speaker was Michael Cumbie, whose faith journey is not the usual; I was pleasantly surprised by both the plot and the content of his 90-minute presentation (the 2nd of 3).

One of the Bible stories he covered was the Road to Emmaus, per Luke 24. I'm editing a bit:

"That very day two of them were going to Emmaus and talking about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding?" 18 Cleopas answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened?"  "What things?"  "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, and how our chief priests and rulers crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive." 25 And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

In catechism class I always thump on that last line. It reminds us that the disciples were average guys; and unlike scribes and Pharisees, didn't have wads of Scripture committed to memory. They didn't spend their workdays thinking about Isaiah; they thought about, oh, catching fish. Nor would it be obvious to even an expert that golly, Jesus sure has fulfilled an awful lotta Scripture on this, the very first Easter Sunday! So Jesus had to explain it all from God's viewpoint as they were walking; and he probably needed every minute of the journey to do so.

"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29 but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30* When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight."

And I jump on that as well, and y'all are familiar with  it. The bread-breaking is a big deal, because that's the moment Jesus was recognized, not merely seen. In other words, anyone can see, but does everyone understand what they are seeing? Of course this alludes to Mass, and the necessity of not just seeing what things may look like, like, you know, bread; but recognizing what they are.

But Cumbie also pointed out that not only was Jesus recognized when he broke bread, but that he was not recognized during hours of Scripturally enlightening the two disciples about himself. And the two disciples seem surprised at that: "They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" Yeah....wouldn't that have been the time for recognition? Nope. They knew Jesus when he broke bread; not when he showed them how all Scripture had been fulfilled in himself. Huh.

I never noticed. But boy howdy am I using it in catechism class when we cover this passage in March. I expect to Go Negative, like so:

"Later on Easter Sunday, Jesus ran into a couple of sad disciples. Why would they be sad? 'Cause they thought Jesus was dead. Yes. Let's listen to Luke's Gospel: "That very day two of them were going to Emmaus and talking about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking, Jesus himself drew near and went with them." But y'all just said Jesus was dead. He's alive again, it's Easter! Oh, oh yeah, that's right. "But their eyes were kept from recognizing him." Who kept them from recognizing Jesus? Umm, I guess Jesus did. Yes, why? I don't know. That's ok, let's see if you can figure it out. Then Jesus said, "What is this conversation which you are holding?" 18 Cleopas answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened?"  "What things?"  "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, and how our chief priests and rulers crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive." Who are they telling Jesus about? They're telling him about himself! Yes! Do they know who he is yet? No! Right! And Jesus said, O foolish men, y'all don't understand all the stuff the prophets predicted! Prophets like who? Isaiah! Yes. But are these guys Bible experts? No! Right, they need a little help: "And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Now once Jesus explained everything to them, did they recognize him? Yes! No! Trick Question! Jesus walked with them most of the day explaining how he fulfilled all those prophecies, but they still didn't know who he was!

"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. The disciples said, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them.  When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight."

"So tell me about it. They knew he was Jesus. Yes of course, but tell me how they knew. Jesus let them see. Yes, but why did Jesus let them see now? Why didn't he do it when they were having Bible Study all day [going negative]? OK, hard question? Y'all listen again and tell me why he waited:  "he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes-" It's like at Mass! Yes; what's like at Mass? That's what we say at Mass. Yes, what the priests says. So try again: why didn't he do it when they were having Bible Study all day? He wanted to wait until the bread stuff. Yes, good. Now can y'all recognize Jesus in the Bible? Yes. And can you recognize him at Mass? Yes. But which one of those ways is Jesus emphasizing in the story? Mass! Yes! And even the disciples are surprised: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" See, even they notice that Jesus didn't let them recognize him until he "blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to them."

The Bible never runs out of Catholic ideas.

4 comments:

Ellen said...

I'd never thought of or heard that before, but really like the idea... Sound and true! Thanks for this post!

Barb Schoeneberger said...

It strikes me that when Jesus was telling the disciples of how He fulfilled Scripture, He was speaking *about* Himself. When He broke the bread it was no longer *about* Him, it *was* Him. We can know many facts about Jesus that truly make our hearts burn, but it is not the same as knowing Him for the Person He is and having a relationship with Him. The abouts must impel us to the Real Thing or we are engaging in nothing more than an intellectual exercise.

Thanks for this post - I always love reading what you say.

Christian LeBlanc said...

"The abouts must impel us to the Real Thing" This is like the ark of the Covenant containing God's stuff, compared to Mary or a tabernacle containing God.

NC Sue said...

Please let others know about still another threat to our Church:
http://www.acts17verse28.blogspot.com/2013/10/now-im-really-ticked-off.html