This morning, Peter proclaims, “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Actually, this proclamation occurs not today but on Pentecost, seven weeks after Easter. This proclamation would not have been possible on the day of Resurrection because Peter and the other disciples were still hiding in fear behind locked doors. The disciples first had to be coaxed into unlocking and then opening the doors.
This coaxing begins in the Gospel according to Luke with the road to Emmaus story. In this story Jesus is incognito as he encounters two disciples who do a lot of things right. The story of the road to Emmaus can be seen as a story about how well-formed disciples function even in the midst of adversity and uncertainty.
On the day of the Resurrection, these two disciples are making their way to Emmaus. They are still grappling with all that has transpired in the previous three days, when they are joined on their journey by a stranger. What takes place among these three people is an exchange of stories. Some of the stories are heard second hand and at some distance removed from actual events; and other stories of insight or perspective are shared by the knowledgeable stranger. While there is no revelation or aha moment in this exchange itself, the groundwork is laid for what is to come.
What is worth noting about this exchange is the candor with which the disciples share with a stranger: they share what they know; what they had expected; and what confounds them. To my mind this is discipleship – the sharing of our experience with others, especially with those we think may not know or share our experience.
I think these two disciples are well trained. They’ve been taught to go out in pairs, and they do. They have been taught to share the news with strangers, and they do. They have been taught to tend to the stranger, and they do. For their efforts, they are richly rewarded as the stranger reveals the meaning of the scriptures to them.
But the highlight of this encounter comes when the disciples extend hospitality to the stranger, inviting him to stay with them as they arrive in Emmaus. It is in this hospitality that revelation takes place.
What is it about hospitality that makes a difference? Perhaps it’s because there is an intentionality and focus in hospitality. When we extend hospitality we set aside our reticence and we focus on preparation and the comfort of those we have invited. We want our guests to feel welcomed and wanted.
These disciples in the Emmaus story are well formed by Jesus before his crucifixion. They are taught how to go out into the world, how to share what they know, how to tend to the stranger. While they are on the road to Emmaus, it is as if Jesus is giving them a pop quiz to see if they have done their homework before he continues his lesson. Having shown they are good students, now it’s time to break bread together.
In this story it is the two disciples who extend hospitality to the stranger who is prepared to go on alone. If they did not invite the stranger to stay with them they may never have known it was Jesus. Their hospitality toward a stranger sets the stage for an eye-opening encounter – their encounter of Jesus in the stranger as “their eyes [are] opened, and they [recognize] him.”
Jesus finds these disciples are capable; satisfied that they have integrated what he has taught them into their lives, Jesus reveals himself, in the midst of their hospitality, in the breaking of the bread – just as he will do for us at this table shortly.
This revelation is particularly noteworthy. While we have the ability to reveal Jesus to others, this story and some of our personal experiences remind us that Jesus is often revealed to us in the face of the stranger. These revelations continue to surprise and delight us, and drive our desire to throw the net of hospitality wider.
Remember that Jesus is always present for us to encounter as a stranger to be welcomed. He reminds us of this in the Gospel according to Matthew, where he says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these …, you did it to me.”
The formation of these two disciples – that is their ability to extend hospitality – makes possible the revelation of the risen Jesus to the other disciples. Their faithful attendance to their formation as disciples and their witness helps open the locked doors so that Peter and the others can also encounter the risen Christ, receive the Holy Spirit, and proclaim the good news.
The road to Emmaus is before us everyday. This opportunity to walk the road and share our story with others; this opportunity to extend hospitality is a daily call to us as disciples. The opportunity for us to encounter Jesus Christ in the presence of others is the fruit of this call.
Amid such open hospitality minds are changed and eyes opened to new perspectives. This is what church is about, and most specifically what this liturgy is about. This liturgy is a radical act of hospitality – intentional, planned and provided so that all can encounter Jesus Christ – so that eyes can be opened and hearts changed, as well as minds and lives.
As we are fed, let us in turn cast the net of hospitality widely. Invite others to join you in the presence of the risen Lord and the Holy Spirit. “For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
 Acts 2:36
 Luke 24:31
 Matthew 25:40
 Acts 2:39