“Were not our hearts burning inside us ...”
This sentence from the Gospel of Luke is in the Emmaus story. Two of the disciples were traveling to a village, and on the way they talked about what they had experienced with their Master only a few days before in Jerusalem. In the Gospel it is written so beautifully, "they exchanged their thoughts." We know this in our lives as well, that things happen which we do not understand and which, like the disciples with the death of Jesus, can pull away the rug from under our feet. How good it is when we have a companion with whom we can talk and share our thoughts, and who may even have experienced the same thing. What was even more extraordinary was that "Jesus came and walked with them."
Jesus was not annoyed by the fact that they did not recognize Him immediately. He merely walked with them and asked what had happened to them. The disciples were able to tell their story and share their feelings. When we read the Gospel, we literally feel their deep concern, even their anger, their lack of understanding and their disappointment at the events they witnessed. Jesus listened to them, walked with them, and accompanied them on their inner and outer journey. They still did not recognized Jesus, as He explained the Scriptures to them, and when He testified that He was the Messiah they had been expecting. This was by no means a simple statement! Jesus revealed to them what was written about Him in the Scriptures. The Scriptures and the prophets were fulfilled in Him. The disciples did not yet realize that the Messiah had to suffer all this in order to enter into his glory.
Let us be honest. We also imagine the Messiah to be rather glorious and without suffering. Also, for us, it remains a great challenge to see and accept Jesus in His suffering. Scripture must be clarified for us over and over again, often through people who journey with us and who accompany us. Then the eyes of faith are opened and we can cry out like the disciples, “were not our hearts burning inside us” when He opened the wisdom of the Scriptures to us.
The disciples felt that something special was taking place here. They seemed to have had an idea that there was an extraordinary person among them. So, they encouraged Him to stay with them. We, too, have encountered people who have a special charisma. Often, we cannot describe what it is exactly, but we know inwardly that more is happening here than just a "simple" encounter. We experience a heart to heart encounter and we are taken into something greater, into something that surpasses our superficial understanding, and that something cannot be expressed in words! Yet it is still deeply there and can be experienced. Here, too, we would like to say: “Stay with us!”
Jesus accepted the invitation of the disciples and suddenly the situation changed. It was no longer the disciples who were the hosts, but the one who was invited… who fed them…who took the bread, blessed it, gave it to them, He became the host. When the bread was broken, their eyes opened and they recognized Him, their Lord.
By being the recipients, He became the giver of all gifts. Not only did they see Jesus as a person, but they also understood the meaning and truth of the Scriptures. This recognition happens again in a conversation. The disciples said to each other: "Were not our hearts burning inside us” when He spoke to us on the way and opened up the meaning of the Scriptures to us? It seems that one person alone is not always capable of understanding. We need others, our brothers, our sisters…we need one another on the path of discipleship. In this way Jesus can also join us so that the Scripture verse may be fulfilled: "Where two or three are together in My name, there am I in the midst of them".
What then happened to the disciples? They recognized Jesus and then he was gone. Recognition is not so much a seeing with our eyes, it is rather a deep inner grasp, an awareness of the great truth: the Lord has truly risen. With their hearts burning they immediately left returned to Jerusalem, a place they feared because of the death of their Master, whom they hastily abandoned. Now they met with the eleven and the other disciples and enthusiastically told of their experiences on the way to Emmaus and how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The disciples strengthen and testify to each other's faith: He, Jesus, has truly risen from the dead. Today, this is also the central message of our faith. All hope, all confidence in our lives lies in the resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate and witness to the living God.
So, we wish that all of you recognize and experience Him in your encounters with each other, in your common journey, in conversations about your faith, so that your hearts will always burn anew. In this way we become witnesses of the Risen Lord and joyfully bring this precious message to God’s people. Everything we do, we do in Christ. Wherever we live and whatever we do, we are first witnesses of the living God! The risen Lord is with us on the way. In this joy let us greet one another with the Easter greeting that our Romanian sisters wish one another.
Christos a înviat! - Christ is risen, Christ lives!