Our gospel text—and the excruciating lesson of Emmet Till’s funeral, which launched the most significant social movement in U.S. history—challenge us to embrace the beat up bodies of both marginalized people and degraded places around our earth mother. As we do so, we will be motivated also to embrace the militant evangelistic vocation Jesus leaves his companions at the end of Luke’s Emmaus narrative: to “proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in my name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (24:47). It is we who must continue the prophetic struggle to turn history around from its captivity to our terminal addictions and compulsions—that’s the meaning of “repentance.” Resurrection as Insurrection! And as Jesus notes, this good news is not just for individuals, but nations and systems, starting at the centers of power— for Luke, Jerusalem, for us, Washington DC.
Luke’s story concludes with the statement that “we are witnesses to these things” (24:48). This implicates hearers and readers of this story! The noun is the word from which we derive “martyr”—an ever-necessary reminder of the cost of discipleship. The only way we can truly be witnesses to the Resurrection is to embrace the traumatic somatic, and then empowered by the Holy Spirit (Lk 24:49, Acts 2), to join the resistance to all that violates people and the planet and to work for healing and restorative justice.