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  • Father George

Leaving Jerusalem

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

--Collect for Wednesday of Easter Week, BCP.

Wednesday of Easter Week presented us with one of the best-known post-Resurrection stories of Jesus: The Road to Emmaus. Two disciples, not part of the much better known 11 "chosen," are leaving Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus. Earlier that morning, we quickly learn, the disciples identified as women had found the empty tomb, seen "visions" of angels, and had been told by these heavenly beings that Jesus had been Resurrected. But, at this point, Jesus has not yet presented himself to the inner circle of disciples. So, as the two hapless and unnamed disciples travel on the road from Jerusalem, they are lamenting what might have been through the One they thought was the Messiah. They are leaving the city of holiness because they believe there is no longer hope there. Yet somewhere along the way, these two men are joined by the Risen Jesus without knowing it; Jesus' transformed body was not entirely known to many he appeared to after He rose from the dead. And he talks with them along the way, opening their hearts to the scriptures. But, as the trio arrive in Emmaus around dusk, the disciples still do not recognize Jesus.

I would rather like to title this episode of the two disciples "Leaving Jerusalem." Jerusalem, in the ancient scriptures (and during Jesus' time) was the holiest place on earth for the people of Israel. If they were not there, they longed to get back to it. If the holy city was annihilated, as it was by the Babylonians and then the Romans, Israel longed to rebuild it. Leaving Jerusalem, whether by force or by choice, seems to be tantamount to abandoning God...or being abandoned by God. How often do we, in our lives, feel like we are leaving Jerusalem? The angst of life, the pain of illness or isolation or loss, the distractedness of living makes staying "in Jerusalem," that place where God resides, nearly impossible. But in the Resurrection of Jesus God accomplished "all His redeeming work." We, as Christians, behold the redeeming work of God in the death and Resurrection of Jesus. God's redemptive love is not contained in the Holy City or a holy Church. Rather, the spirited, Resurrected life of Jesus longs to make Jerusalem in us, bonding us, no matter where we are, to a loving God who makes us His own Leaving "Jerusalem," at times, is required to be found by God in all the other places God chooses to reveal Himself to us.

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