The Easter Stranger
Dear old and new friends,
In this painting of the Emmaus meal by Philippine artist Emmanuel Garibay notice that the hands of the woman dressed in red are pierced! As you will recall it was at the village of Emmaus that the disciples of Jesus invited a stranger they met on the road to stop and share a meal with them. As the stranger broke the bread they recognized their Risen Jesus, even though they were unaware that Jesus had risen since they had departed Jerusalem before this was revealed.
The Emmaus event echoes all the other post-resurrection appearances where the disciples and friends of Jesus failed to recognize their beloved friend and teacher-rabbi in the Risen Christ. Their teacher was not resuscitated to his former Galilean male body but raised up to a totally new existence. Garibay’s depicting the Risen Lord as a woman challenges all our mental images of the glorious, golden-haloed, white-robed Christ of religious art.
This novel depiction of the Emmaus meal, however, is more authentic than previous images. It also has the power to awaken us not to be like those first disciples and fail to recognize the Risen One who promised to remain with us until the end of time. As Easter People who share in the resurrection, we need Easter eyes to realize—become conscious of—the Risen Christ in those we may encounter.
Easter set Jesus free from the tomb…and also from tabernacles and church sanctuaries. The beer bottles and ashtray on the table in the painting depict the Emmaus inn as if it had been a tavern or bar and grill! Before his death Jesus indiscriminately loved to eat and drink with people, including sinners, prostitutes and religious outcasts—and continues to do so today.
With Easter eyes see beyond the divine masquerade of the dark-skinned stranger, the elderly woman using a walker, the teenage youth, the café waitress, the Mexican undocumented gardener and the tattooed motorcyclist, to perceive the presence of your beloved Risen Christ.