Monday, April 20, 2009

On the road

SFC McG and I recently went on the road to bring Easter Mass to Soldiers and others at a couple of bases at some distance from where we hang our hats, and that got me to thinking about being on the road.

This was especially true as the Gospel reading for the last Mass on Easter Day is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Only one is named: Cleopas. I figure the other was his wife, whom I like to think was named Gertrude.

It's a great story, one of my favorites.

Cleopas and Gertrude had been the veritable Campus Crusade for Jesus -- until his arrest, torture, and death. They had been crushed by the events surrounding the end of Jesus' life. "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" Cleopas plaintively cries, as he an Gertrude 'cut and run' to Emmaus.

The last straw, as far as they were concerned, was that some presumably-ditzy women had claimed that morning that they'd gone to the tomb, only to find that Jesus' body was gone. That did it! They were outta there!

So there they were, kvetching to one another, confused, angry, sad, dazed as they walked along the dusty road from Jerusalem to Emmaus (about seven miles away). I wonder who might have been blaming whom for getting themselves involved in the first place, only to have their aspirations crushed so completely and horribly....

As they're walking along, the risen Jesus seeks them out -- pretty amazing when considering that they'd abandoned the community, had abandoned *him*. And he doesn't go after them to berate or shame or punish them. (What's up with that?) They don't immediately recognize him, so he winds up pointing out to them how the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures told his story. This causes their "hearts to burn within them" as they're walking along.

Later, at table, Jesus takes bread, says the blessing, breaks the bread, and gives it to them. With that, their eyes are opened, and they recognize him. But he vanishes from their sight.

They race back to Jerusalem and are met by the disciples who have seen the Lord in Jerusalem. Cleopas and Gertrude then tell the assembly how they recognized him in the breaking of bread.

The children we passed while we were on the road were undoubtedly heading home from school to get some lunch -- at least those with backpacks seemed to be. One boy, standing by the side of the road, walking stick in hand, might not have been coming home from school; it was impossible to tell.

I found myself wondering what it must be like, to be an elementary school student walking home for lunch and have a convoy of heavily-armed military vehicles belonging to some other nation pass by, forcing me off the road and into the trash along the roadside....

It was certainly never part of my experience when I was a child, walking home from school for lunch!

(If you click on any of the photos, you'll be able to see a larger version, should you wish.)

Easter blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ
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Mary Coady said...

2Thanks, Tim, for a wonderful reflection on Easter, and upon the children you see in your missions. God bless all of them. May they have what they need in food, health, education and loving families. And God bless you for noticing and for helping us to do the same.


seg said...

And God Bless America for bringing the freedom to these children to go to these schools.

cptdrfrtim said...

Yes, definitely! God bless (the less than 1% of) Americans who have put on a uniform and come over here -- at great personal cost to themselves and their families -- to make this possible!

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