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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Road from Emmaus...

Many of us know the story of the Road to Emmaus in Luke's Gospel where Jesus mysteriously shows up as his two friends/disciples are walking away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus.  Here in the story Jesus not only opens the scriptures to them, but reveals himself in the breaking of the bread.  Christians often see this as an assurance of still finding Jesus in the Sacrament of the table...he still shows himself in the breaking of the bread.

Yesterday I was at two of the three sites that hold claim to being the true Emmaus.  Both are beautiful, one Emmaus Nicopolis which hosts some impressive archeological evidence on its side, and some early connection from Eusebius and others.  The other hosts a later Crusader veneration and is in the Muslim village of Abu Gnosh.  
Ruins of a 5th century basilica and great
archeological evidence connecting
this site as Emmaus.

Both sites now host monastic communities.  And each of these communities works hard to establish connections with their neighbors.  At Abu Gnosh, brother Oliver told us stories of the Israeli army bringing new recruits to come and visit the monastery in an attempt to help them better understand the history of the place.  Together they sang the 23rd psalm in this Crusader church, inside a Muslim village and before leaving the commander asked Brother Oliver to bless these young recruits--none of whom are Christian.
Beautiful courtyard at the monastery in Abu Gnosh

The monastery here at Abu Gnosh is Benedictine, the same order as the monastery I visited in Oceanside, Prince of Peace.  With two big differences:  There is also a convent here at Abu Gnosh, and here at Abu Gnosh I was invited/allowed to take communion with the community.   Imagine that:  an open table where our unity in Christ which already exists trumps the insecurities of "right thinking."    As I traveled the road away from Emmaus it seemed clear that Christ is still present whenever his people dare to reach out in love, in community, in mercy toward each other.  And I also leave with a strong conviction that I have to do a better job of not only listening to the stories of those around me; but of providing ways for the Christian story to interact with all the competing narratives that surround us.  
After Mass --a welcoming
community of French

I say goodbye in a few hours to Tantur and I leave more confused than ever; but more focused as well, if that makes sense.   I'm off to Augusta Hospital for a week and my guess is that I'll meet Jesus there. 

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