The reading for Sunday, April 26, 2015:
Today we read of the sojourners on their way to Emmaus. This story gives us an important window into the lives we are to have as Christians, particularly when it comes to the sharing of a meal, and our basic obligations when it comes to hospitality.
That hospitality is the often overlooked side of the Emmaus story. The travelers have walked seven miles together. For those of you who are wondering, that might take the modern walker, walking at a fast clip, a bit over two hours; in Biblical times, with unpaved roads with poorly shod feet, I'm estimating it would take half a day. It wouldn't surprise me if it took much longer.
When they get back to their house, they don't say to Jesus, "Well, off you go. Good luck on your journey."
No--they invite him inside. What remarkable hospitality. They share what they have. They don't say, "Well, I can't let you see my house in its current state--let's go out to dinner." No, they notice that the day is nearly done, and they invite a stranger in to stay the night.
Those of you who have read your Bible will recognize a motif. God often appears as a stranger, and good things come to those who invite a stranger in. For those of you who protest that modern life is so much more dangerous than in Biblical times, and so it was safer for people like Abraham and the Emmaus couple to invite the stranger to stay, I'd have to disagree.
We are called to model the same behavior. Jesus calls us to a Eucharistic life, which requires a major readjustment of our mindset around the issues of food, drink, time, and hospitality.
One thing we can do in our individual lives is to adopt a Eucharistic mindset. Never has this been more vital. Most people have ceased cooking for themselves, and many Americans are eating at least one meal a day while they drive.
Rebel against this trait. Look for ways to make meals special. Cook for yourself, even if it's something special. Invite your friends and loved ones to dinner. Occasionally, invite a stranger.
But it's about more than dinner, more than hospitality, of course. Without that hospitality, those strangers never would have known their fellow traveler. It is through the meal that the Emmaus Road sojourners realize who has been walking beside them.
What miracles might come into our lives when we open them to the ancient practice of hospitality? More thoughts on that idea next week.