That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him.
“What things?” Jesus asked.
In the ancient world, showing hospitality to strangers was a part of survival; you never knew when you might be the one passing through in need of help. In the modern age, and especially in our Western culture of self-reliance, we have lost the welcoming of strangers and aliens. More often than not, we just dismiss or ignore people who we think don’t belong.
As followers of Jesus, we are to remember that we, too, are aliens who don’t belong to this world. Its ways and customs should be foreign to us. Instead, we belong to a kingdom of Love with a new way of life, including new customs and norms. In one of his letters, Peter reminds the Church, “Dear friends, I warn you as ‘strangers and aliens’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors.” [1 Peter 2:11-12a]
When God’s kingdom life moves us into the margins of the ways of this world, our hearts will open wide to the “strangers” that the world has marginalized or intentionally kept on the outside. We will end up walking together.
Our friends walking to Emmaus welcomed a stranger and were transformed by the gift of God in disguise. Who are we missing when we lived closed lives and just walk on by?
Perhaps God feels distant because we fail to welcome His presence in the strangers among us.
The Real Question: Am I living as an alien and a stranger to this world, or do I fit right in? How is God calling me to radically welcome the “strangers” around me?
Family Talk: Have you ever like you did not fit in or left out because you were a Christian? What was that like?
ONE in Prayer: God, help me to see Your face in the faces of those I meet. Change my heart to move away from guardedness and toward the welcome of Your love to others around me. Amen.