In reading today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles and then the Gospel reading from Luke, I was reminded of two things. One is Scriptural and heard/read often, “Do not be afraid.” God tells various characters in the Old and New Testament this. Sometimes through angels, sometimes in His own voice. But it’s very clear that we need not fear if God is in control of our lives.
We’ve got to put Him there. He won’t impose Himself upon us. As my dear aunt Alice, rest her soul, used to say, “Jesus is such a Gentleman, He waits to be invited.” I love that. But once we ask Him into our lives, we have to stop worrying and stop fretting. Soldiers find comfort and courage when their leader is sure of the task and enters the fray with them. Just as any good commander or NCO, Jesus leads by example. We have to be courageous as He is the mightiest Warrior and has conquered death. Nothing left to fear.
Easter, the Resurrection, illustrate that certainly. But another thing I thought of in reading the two main Biblical selections today was, ‘Do not be confused.” Confusion is also not of God. Confusion is the opposite of order and the mind of God is nothing if not ordered. That does not just mean things are organized. Ordered means that the priorities are definite and there are not a lot of sub-categories.
Heaven and hell; life and death; joy and despair, good and evil. You choose one or the other. Order means definitive. It is certainty and clarity instead of vagueness or cloudiness.
Order is symmetry and balance. Order is beautiful. Confusion can lead you down a wrong path and the farther down you go, the worse it becomes. And then things turn upside down and backwards. Good starts to seem bad; evil starts to seem kind of OK.
So, today, while those disciples were walking down the road to Emmaus they were confused. What just happened anyway? What will happen now? It can’t be good; look at what happened to the man we followed! And now we’re hearing that the tomb was empty on the third day and women discovered not only that, but angels talked to them about Jesus rising from the dead! It is all a bit much for them to take in.
I wonder why they were headed to Emmaus? It isn’t revealed in Scripture. But it cannot have been all that pressing as they turn around and head back to the 11 as quick as they can to tell them what they’ve seen. They’ve seen the risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. I suppose anything else pales in comparison. Priorities!
They know they MUST go back to share their experience. And there they find a warm welcome and people who believe them and have their own amazing story to tell! Jesus is back and He’s there to give them the Holy Spirit in a few short days. Everything becomes crystal clear and there is no murkiness or confusion to work through.
Do not be afraid, do not be confused. But be joyful and brave and certain of what you have seen and of what you know.