Our own walk to Emmaus

By the Rev. Elizabeth Murray

Have you “lost” something that was right in front of your face?

It is fairly common for us to not see things that are right in front of us. This is what it was like when the two men were on the road to Emmaus. Scripture says their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus until they broke bread together. How often are our eyes hidden from things right in front of our face, things that we need to see?

We are entering into Hispanic Heritage Month, which is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the culture, heritage and ministries of Hispanic/Latino people in the churches and to extend a welcome to for them to come to church.

I was a part of a group called Caminantes at Duke Divinity School. Caminantes, which means walkers or journeyers in Spanish, was a covenant group through the Hispanic House of Studies. For me, I felt Caminantes was my own walk to Emmaus. I started to open my eyes to the fact that Jesus may be in my midst, but I just can’t see him.

One year during spring break, Caminantes held a small communion service at the border in Tijuana, Mexico. A man saw what we were doing and approached us to ask for some food. Before my mentor bought him food, we asked if he would like to take Communion with us. He had been deported from the United States. After opening a failed business in Honduras, he was trying to cross back into the States.

I looked at him and handed him the bread saying, “El cuerpo de Cristo… The body of Christ.” After he had received communion, he prayed. He prayed for us, for our trip and for his situation. Yet he praised God for all God had done in his life. In that moment, my eyes were opened. It wasn’t until the breaking of that bread that I could look at this man, my brother in Christ, and see him as Jesus.

When have we not seen Jesus when he is right in front of us? The Walk to Emmaus story is a call to action. It is a call to humility and prayer. It is a call to be challenged, whether it’s the driver who cuts you off in traffic, the person that comes to receive services at the food pantry, the immigrant, the person you’re holding a grudge against.

We should see Christ in all people. It’s hard. We are not perfect. But God calls us to still see the Christ in others. To treat others like we would treat Christ.

Jesus breaks down all these barriers. In communion, the men’s eyes are opened to see that the man they were with this whole time was actually Christ himself. I was able to recognize the Christ in the Honduran man I had met while communing at the border.

When we share communion together, when we are a part of the body of Christ together, things change because Christ changes everything.

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