In our long examination of Bible readings for the care for people who are sick and dying, we continue with the account of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
You’ll recall in the last post, two believers are leaving Jerusalem, downcast that their hopes for a better life had been dashed. They trusted that the prophet Jesus would turn things on their head. They experienced his power of teaching and healing. They felt part of the inner group of his followers.
Perhaps they saw what he did for people who were blind, lame, and sick. He could cure sight unseen from a distance. He even brought a few dead people back to life. A man like that could change everything. And if we are seriously ill, maybe we have similar expectations. If our sickness has taken a turn for the worse, we might feel abandoned as well.
Jesus probes the couple with two simple questions. One responds with a summary statement about the man they followed. In verses 25 through 29, Jesus chides them and outlines what the Jewish tradition could tell them about the Messiah. Note that in the previous verses, the two disciples identify Jesus as a prophet. They hoped he was the Messiah. But they didn’t confess him as such. The Lord sets them straight:
And (Jesus) said to them,
“Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Messiah
should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.
Some commentators see this as a foretaste of Christian liturgy. The Scriptures are always a proper first step in corporate worship.
The mysterious companion waits for an invitation:
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him,
“Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening
and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
Do we assume God is with us, even if we don’t ask? Are we rooted in a certain entitlement because we “have” sacraments, the right words and actions, the right clergy, the right traditions, and the right procedures? Are we convinced in our illness that we have done all we are supposed to do? I am sure many of us sincerely are.
When we are in dire straits, what prayer is more direct that three simple syllables: stay with me.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.