Wow – the last Wednesday of April! Here’s the wisdom I found for this week.
Luke 24 The Message:
13-16 That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
17-18 He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
19-24 He said, “What has happened?”
They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
25-27 Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
28-31 They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
32 Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
33-34 They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”
35 Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.
Recent archeological evidence suggests that Jesus was poor . . . dirt poor. Nazareth, 70 miles outside of Jerusalem, may have had as few as 400 mostly illiterate residents and certainly not more than 2000. There were no public buildings, no paved streets and no art or luxury good. Its people were agricultural and migrant workers, a few skilled like Joseph and Jesus, carpenters who went to nearby new towns like Tiberius to find work. Their houses were made of mud and straw with dirt floors and few windows and they mostly died by age 40—only 7 years later than Jesus himself.
Luke’s gospel confirms that Mary and Joseph were poor because instead of bringing the required lamb sacrifice for Jesus’ ritual Redemption of the Son (Luke 2:24) they brought two turtle doves the alternative for the poor.
The road to migrant work in Tiberius, a new playground city for the rich under construction in Jesus’ day, was near Nazareth. Though dangerous, it was the road to survival for these migrant workers. Muggings, like the one that downed a man in the Good Samaritan story, were commonplace due to widespread poverty.
Could that “man downed” in the Good Samaritan story have been Joseph, Jesus’ brothers, friends . . . or even Jesus himself?
Was that Jesus downed that I passed on the road while driving my nice car? Or while walking to the subway or riding in the taxi to church, work, or to the polls to vote for more tax cuts so that I can hold onto more of “my money?” While people like Jesus and his family lay helpless on the side of the road? Not my problem?
Hello . . . Call from Nazareth, Jesus begs to differ.
The first fish
I ever caught
would not lie down
quiet in the pail
but flailed and sucked
at the burning
amazement of the air
in the slow pouring off
of rainbows. Later
I opened his body and separated
the flesh from the bones
and ate him. Now the sea
is in me: I am the fish, the fish
glitters in me; we are
risen, tangled together, certain to fall
back to the sea. Out of pain,
and pain, and more pain
we feed this feverish plot, we are nourished
by the mystery.