Today’s gospel is the Lukan account of the post-Resurrection encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I am always reminded on this passage’s highly Eucharistic content: blessing, broke, gave. The word pattern of the miracle feeding of the crowds, the word pattern of the Last Supper – all echoed in the simple words of this gospel
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32)
This morning while celebrating Mass in the quiet of the church, well before the rising sun would shine through the stained glass window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the darkness held at bay by a single candle, I was stopped by the word “Were not our hearts burning within us…”
In these days of pandemic, isolation, and the tailspin of our lives, our hearts burn for wide variety of reasons. Our rhythm of life is disrupted, our schools are closed, recession looms, we are increasingly disconnected from friends and social relationships, the future is unknown, the nightly news brings an ebb and flow of uncertainty, and we wonder if we will ever return to normal – or will “normal” be among the other losses among the chaos and disequilibrium. Are not our hearts burning within us?
This reading reminds us that among all the “white noise” of what burns within us, is the still small voice of certainty and equilibrium: God is with us. God walks with us. God invites us to conversation.
In the quiet of a candle-lit church, I took long pause to acknowledge that which eternally burns within, and to enter into conversation with the Risen Christ. To calm the burning? No, …to fuel the fire within us that its light may burn brightly as we journey to our own Emmaus.