Friday, May 2, 2014

The Stranger Right in Front of You (Easter 3) Luke 24:13-35

Luke 24:13-35
St. Thomas Memorial Church
Easter 3
May 4, 2014

Have any of you ever seen The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon? It’s the show that replaced Jay Leno's. It's very similar to the Late Show with David Letterman, just with a much younger host—a host not much older than me. Anyway, sometimes on Jimmy Fallon he’ll have a segment where a famous athlete, actor, or musician will walk around the streets of NYC with a microphone in hand ready to interview unsuspecting passers-by. Sometimes the famous interviewer assumes a false identity and asks questions about their true self.  Not too long ago, the show featured New York Mets’ pitcher Matt Harvey. He walked the streets asking New Yorkers what they thought about him. Only, he wasn’t wearing his baseball uniform. He was dressed much like any ordinary New Yorker. Because he was not in uniform few, if any, recognized him right away. It was as if he had transformed.  Ordinary and anonymous Matt Harvey asked his interviewees if they thought baseball star Matt Harvey was any good.  Did they think he was getting lucky, did they think he had what it took to become a real star, and lastly, and most importantly… did they think that he was attractive?

Watching the skit makes you and I, the in-the-know audience, laugh. We see some die hard Mets’ fans either gushing or talking smack about a person that is right in front of them; a person they have gone to see in person or have watched on television countless times. Most of them did not recognize him until, as they began to walk away, he revealed his true identity. For some of them what they said about him during the interview was so awkward that he didn’t even bother revealing his true identity. He let them walk away in complete ignorance.

Thinking about this morning’s gospel reading is what made me think of this skit.  In the reading, Jesus comes up to two of his followers, Cleopas and his friend, and they do not recognize him. Why? We are not told. They are on a walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. A long walk, about seven miles in distance, so there was a lot of time to talk.  What were they talking about? Their dashed hopes about Jesus, of course. While they were walking, Jesus overhears their conversation and asks, “What are you two talking about?” Jesus, the one whom they loved and followed--upon whom their hopes were placed--was right in front of them and they did not recognize him.