Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.
Gospel: Lk 24:13-35
“The Suffering Messiah”…. Incognito
Living in a world of billions and billions of human beings, how hard is it to think that Jesus himself, flesh and blood, might be next to you in line at the supermarket, or reading peacefully on the couch next to you at Starbucks, or best yet driving next to you fighting traffic on the 10 freeway as you race home after work to make the 5:30pm Mass?
Luke describes this in his Gospel as Jesus makes one of his appearances after his Resurrection to two men on their long walk to a village named Emmaus. Jesus simply strolls into the lives of these two men, Cleopas and the other “Unnamed,” and begins to fulfill his prophesy among the hesitant believers.
Now when Jesus returned from the dead, he did not show himself so that he would be easily recognized. Jesus had a plan and a very unique strategy to evangelize his true self to people and most notably to the twelve Apostles. When I think about it, it kind of plays out like Clark Kent in the Superman franchise. Superman’s earthly appearance to cover up his famed status as Superman was a simple human being living a normal life with an alias of Clark Kent, journalist for The Daily News. Now when you think of the costume Clark Kent came up with to hide his identity, you have to chuckle at the idea that it was merely a pair of black rimmed glasses and a suit. That was all it took to keep his friends and believers in the dark. Even when face-to-face with him, no one would put two and two together and figure out that the person behind those glasses was in fact Superman. Sounds very comical, right?
As for our Superhero God, Jesus himself with his ultimate power, I think his costume is harder to distinguish. See, as the viewers of the movie Superman, we know that Clark and Superman are the same person, but the characters in the movie don’t. It’s easy to assume that these people don’t have a clue, but really they are blind to Clark’s true self. They are unable to see Superman as he truly is, because their eyes have not been opened or their faith tested. Jesus makes it a lot harder for us, the viewers and characters in this movie called “LIFE.” He makes it hard because he wants us to really find HIM. He wants us to use the script of our God-given life to have a connection with him and find the reason why he would need to come in contact with us, as many of us pray to one day do.
As Catholics we solidly and fully believe that God is present in the Sacrament as we approach the altar, as well as in the Church he created. But can you look at that person sitting next to you at Starbucks and fully give them the same respect and love that Jesus deserves, and give them the same glory as if you had been in the presence of our King in the flesh? Can you look into that person’s eyes so deeply that you see Jesus, and get that same warm, full feeling that most of us get walking out of confession? I’m sure Jesus would want you to smile and greet that person as if you and he secretly knew that you were the special one who at that moment was able to figure out that his incognito cover or disguise was blown. And then you move on knowing that you met Jesus and knowing that he can use the varieties of race or gender to make us understand that he made us in his Image.
In the Gospel of Luke, Cleopas and the other man weren’t fully on board with the thought of Jesus as a suffering Messiah; they were under the assumption he would redeem Israel. To help them understand, Jesus had to step into their lives; then they had to invite Jesus to stay overnight with them and eat dinner with them. Once invited, Jesus unveiled himself by the breaking of the bread, and then the two men fully understood this complete stranger was Jesus…God Almighty!!!
Once we can see one another as a “possible” Jesus in flesh, then we are focused on the grand idea of God being present in one another and we are not focused on the wrong things. As I type this, I’m wondering if Jesus is sitting next to me in a Starbucks, smiling…high fiving God, and saying to himself, “Thanks be to God” that there are Young Adults interested in proclaiming the Word, connecting to each other, and keeping their faith strong and their eyes open to a future that will grant them to life everlasting. AMEN!!!!
St. Mary’s, Whittier