Will You Recognize Him?
Tony Chvala Smith, World Church Theology Formation Team, team leader
As they came near the village to which they were going, he [Jesus] walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. -Luke 24:28-31
For 1500 years Benedictine monks have excelled in practicing hospitality. A text called The Rule of St. Benedict guides these communities. One memorable line from it says, “Guests who present themselves are to be received as Christ.” It reminds monastics to welcome Christ in the form of the visitor, the guest, and even the stranger. A small plaque with these words from the Rule adorns the wall beside our front door. It helps us remember to treat our guests with dignity, for Christ is present in them.
Once during an evening gathering in our home, a rough-looking young man came to the door and entered. He was not among the invited guests, though related to one of them. From past experience, we knew him as rude, self-centered, and hostile. When I saw him enter, I forgot all about Benedict’s Rule and welcoming strangers. I was ready to escort the young man out that door. Seeing the rising fury in my face, my wife Charmaine whispered to me to remember what this potluck of our weekly Bible study group was about. Taking a deep breath I returned to the dining room, welcomed the young man, and invited him to get a plate. As he ate and chatted, I overheard him say, “I feel so safe here.” Later I learned he had been beaten up earlier that evening and came to the one place he hoped he would be okay.
Christ came to us that night. Like those Emmaus disciples, I didn’t recognize him at first. But in the breaking of bread Christ did appear, this time embodied in the needs of a struggling, fearful soul, yearning for a safe and loving community. In countless unlikely forms he still comes to our doors. Will we dare to welcome him?
Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
Moving Toward the Peaceful One
As Jesus was nearing the final days of his life, he wept over the city and proclaimed, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:41-42).What are the things that make for peace in our lives, communities, and around the world? As we move through the Easter season, spend time in silent refection or journaling each day to notice: Am I moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One? Pay attention to your attitudes, actions, and relationships this day. When did you most embody the peaceful One in your daily living? When were your thoughts or actions contrary to the peace of Jesus Christ? How might Jesus, the peaceful One, who is always near to you, be inviting you to draw nearer to him through your daily living?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.