Sharpening Our Vision
Developing Eyes That See Jesus
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.—Luke 24:15b-16
On the Third Sunday of Easter, which this year is also Mother’s Day, we’ll hear the Gospel passage about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. I imagine this story as a little one-act play—a comedy. The time is the first Easter Sunday. Two disciples have set out on a seven-mile hike. One is named Cleopas and the other…well, we don’t know the other’s name. How about Chris? Cleopas and Chris are walking along, and Jesus appears. The audience knows it’s Jesus, but Cleopas and Chris are “prevented from recognizing him.”
Jesus asks what they’re talking about, and they’re so sad that they stop right in their tracks. Cleopas asks Jesus if he is the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know about the things going on there. And Jesus replies, “What sort of things?”
Can’t you just see Jesus wink at the audience? Clearly, he’s having some fun with them. It’s to be expected that, given the circumstances, Jesus would feel a bit giddy. His ordeal is over—and he is alive!
So Cleopas and Chris tell Jesus about his own death. They talk about their dashed hopes and disappointments and about all that confusion with the women who claim they saw visions of angels announcing that he is alive. Only after they sit down for supper in Emmaus and Jesus blesses the bread and shares it with them do they finally recognize him.
Isn’t it nice to hear a Gospel story with a happy ending and some comic relief?
It’s also a good story for Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day too). The disciples didn’t recognize their good friend and teacher, and we frequently fail to recognize that divine spark in those we love the most. From the day our children are born, we can get so caught up in them as projects to finish or problems to solve that we fail to see that bright uniqueness that is God dwelling within them.
An incident that brought this home occurred one evening when we had our pastor over for dinner. Our sons were teenagers then. Remembering the state of their room, I cringed as they gave Father a tour of the house. When our pastor came back downstairs, he went on and on about their “cool” room.
Cool? I tried to hide my surprise. Later that evening I climbed the stairs to the “lair” to try to see what our pastor saw. There it was—every inch of space on the walls and sloped ceilings of our sons’ cozy attic room was covered with original drawings, hand-calligraphed quotes and bits of lovely poetry, origami animals, coasters from restaurants, and photographs of plants, pets, and loved ones. It was a cool room. All I had seen were the unmade beds and the laundry on the floor.
We mothers and fathers may not see our children as they really are and, most of the time, our children return the favor, seeing us only as providers of food and car keys and maybe a bit of comfort—or as naggers who fail to provide those things. If we’re lucky, someday our children will have their eyes opened to see just how cool we are too.
Maybe we all need to take a seven-mile hike together, or at least sit down for a meal and offer up a little prayer for better eyesight—eyes that see Jesus dwelling in each other.
Paige Byrne Shortal writes from her home in rural Missouri. Contact her at www.paigebyrneshortal.com.