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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Our Hearts Burn for Jesus (3 Easter, A)

Luke 24:13-35

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[f] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.[g] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,[h] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.[i] Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[j] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us[k] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

“Our Hearts Burn for Jesus”

By Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

We are often in the place of these two disciples on the way to Emmaus:

  • We know the story of Jesus’ life and death

  • But we cannot recognize Jesus when he is near

Even if we say that we believe in the resurrection, we often struggle to understand why that matters for us here and now. The resurrection feels like something that happened a long time ago.

It was great. It was important. But it’s over now. Jesus ascended into heaven and he’s not coming back until it’s all over. We just have to wait around, I guess.

The harsh realities of the world around us seem much more present, much more real, than the hope we pray about each Sunday. Someone can ask you a question about you’re really doing, or what has happened in the world today, and, like these two disciples, it can stop us dead in our tracks. We stand still and look sad (Luke 24:17).

But then a stranger appears. This stranger is not cold and callous like the rest of the world. He comes to instruct and to guide. The stranger speaks and listens. The stranger opens up the Scriptures in a new and exciting way. This stranger creates fellowship and community by breaking bread together.

The stranger changes the way we see the world. The stranger causes our hearts to burn within us! What was damp, cold, and near death has become warm, vibrant, and full of resurrection life!

The resurrected Jesus meets the disciples in their lowest point and fills them with hope and courage. Their eyes were opened to see God’s New Life. The Spirit allowed them to see that God was already in their midst, despite their pain and sorrow.

God came to meet them, and didn’t just offer empty, sentimental comforts. No, this God offers New Life to the dead, resurrection to the fallen, and the Holy Spirit to the disheartened.

We often imagine our God as distant and disinterested in us and our lives. The sin of the world (and our own part to play in it) can overwhelm us. We think that God cannot truly be with us amidst all the struggle.

But by the power of the resurrection, Jesus appears even in our sorrow and mourning. Jesus appears when we gather together to hear and discuss the words of the Scriptures. And Jesus appears when we come together to share the bread of life and the cup of salvation.

Jesus appears with us in the very breath we breathe, in the life God graciously gives us each day. That heartbeat that pulses in our chests is so easy to forget. But it is the sources of our physical life. That little spark within us keeps us going through thick and thin.

And we can choose to ignore that heartbeat. We can pretend that we don’t need it or that it isn’t there. We can be like these disciples, who ignored Mary and the women, ignored all of Jesus’ teaching about his death, who ignored the One standing before them with scars in his hands and feet.

Or we can look and listen for the movement of God. The heartbeat of God keeps moving and pulsing and filling us with life. When we know God intimately, face to face, our hearts are set on fire. The icy bitterness of the world melts away. The sweet heavenly Dove fills us with the fires of God’s love.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while [Jesus] was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

Resurrection is not just a historical fact about Jesus. Resurrection is at the heart of the God. Resurrection is what drives our spiritual lives right here and right now.

But we know it is easy to lose sight of that spark and passion. And so we pray. We don’t just pray mindlessly for things to stay the way they are.

We pray for Jesus to appear to us the way he appeared to the disciples on the Emmaus road. We pray for eyes to see God’s marvelous works in the world around us. We pray that resurrection becomes our daily reality, that we know God’s life-giving Spirit in our burning hearts, and not simply in our minds.

We can pray these words of Scriptures using the form in the Book of Common Prayer. On page 124, in Daily Evening Prayer, we have a Collect prayer for the Presence of Christ. In this specific prayer, we are asking the Spirit of Christ to reenact this Gospel story among us.

A Collect for the Presence of Christ (Book of Common Prayer, p. 124)

“Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.”

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