On the road to Emmaus, the disciples enter into conversation with a stranger. How often do we enter into conversations with strangers? I’m guessing that most of us tend to speak to the same people week after week, ignoring any strangers in our midst, and that our musical habits follow the same as our speaking habits. We listen to the same radio station every day and, if we go to concerts, it’s probably to hear the same music we hear on the radio. We like the music we like, and we stick with it until something forces us to change.
Have you ever driven far enough that you lost the signal for your favorite radio station? Maybe you flew somewhere, rented a car and needed to find a new radio station. Emmaus was a long journey for the disciples. They left behind what they knew and were headed to a new location. The journey forced them to move outside their comfort zone and known territory. Their conversation with the stranger gave them a chance to learn more about their faith until their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. While a radio signal grows weaker as we move away from it, the disciples grew stronger through their encounter with the stranger as they moved away from what was familiar.
Music can be the stranger that leads us closer to Christ. Familiar songs can reinforce what we already know and believe, and new music can shed light upon aspects of our faith and practice that we might not have considered or understood yet. While the cliché says we should not judge a book by its’ cover, music (and people) can get labeled very quickly. Whether you like “traditional” or “contemporary” music, I’d like to suggest that you not let the label keep you from interacting with a stranger. The disciples walked many steps with the stranger before they recognized him. So too, our own musical journeys might require a lot of time with the unfamiliar before we understand. Explore, reach out, listen (and sing!) so that you too might discover Jesus along the way beside you.
Bulletin Notes for the Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, April 19, 2015