Seeing Jesus' Face
by Haniel R. Garibay
The lectionary texts for Easter Evening A: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 114; 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; Luke 24:13-49
"Prestige" is a movie about two rival stage magicians trying to outdo each other with the perfect "disappearing act." In Luke's story of the walk to Emmaus, Jesus disappeared in front of two disciples right after breaking the bread with them.
As a child, Jesus' "disappearing act" amazed me. Another point in the story that stimulated my curiosity was the failure of the two disciples to recognize that Jesus was the "stranger" walking with them. After all, they had been with Jesus during his ministry. Besides, Jesus, and the prophecies before him, had already foretold his resurrection. Why, the pair even remarked that they had heard of the news of Jesus' body not being found in his tomb. Still they failed to recognize their teacher until one signature mark, the breaking of the bread, finally gave Jesus away.
Reflecting on the story of Emmaus as an adult, I have concluded that the most significant aspects of the Emmaus story are the disciples' failure to recognize Jesus and Jesus' revealing himself through a particular sign (the breaking of the bread).
We may ask ourselves how we can recognize Jesus now that he's not physically with us. How can we be aware of his presence? What is our equivalent today of his breaking of the bread? What sign shows us that he's the one?
Though Jesus may not be around physically, we have the Holy Spirit to call on for guidance and comfort. Through the gospels we have an account of his life, his ministry, and his teachings. Indeed, the key to recognizing Jesus in our lives is the very message of his life, ministry and teachings. That is how Jesus breaks the bread for us today.
We may not see Jesus' actual face, but he taught us to see him in the faces of other people, especially the least of our brothers and sisters and yes, even our enemies, whom Jesus said we should love. We see Jesus' face in the exemplary lives of many of his followers. We also see Jesus' face when we translate our knowledge of him into action, doing the very things that he himself did during his earthly life.
Haniel R. Garibay is a volunteer projects coordinator and grant writer, National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists (NAFAUM), the officially recognized Filipino-American caucus in the United Methodist Church. He also assists various ministries at Resurrection United Methodist Church in Chesapeake, Virginia where wife Olma, a deaconess, is employed as multi-ministry director. Garibay previously taught social sciences in various universities in the Philippines and also worked for the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and in other non-profit organizations in the Philippines.
Date posted: Mar 19, 2008