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Did not our hearts burn within us?

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Did not our hearts burn within us?

Imagine you were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus two thousand years ago.  Deep in conversation with your friend, you are interrupted by a man who asks what you’re talking about.  You tell him you’re discussing the events of the past few days regarding Jesus of Nazareth and your hopes that he was the Messiah.

Now he has been crucified but the body is no longer in the tomb and you cannot explain events.  The man then proceeds to explain the scriptures to you in a way that makes sense in your head and in your heart, like a truth you’d known all along and yet not realised it. It is no wonder that those two who met the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus said, after eventually recognising Jesus, ‘were not out hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ No wonder, either, that they got up and returned to Jerusalem – a seven mile walk – to tell the others their news.   It must have been an amazing thing to have the scriptures, with which you were so familiar, interpreted in the light of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Skipping fifty days to Pentecost, the apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaim God’s greatness openly and confidently.  Peter realises that the words of the prophet Joel ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,’ are being fulfilled and sees also that David prophesied the resurrection of the Messiah in Psalm 15, which we hear at Mass on Sunday –

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

And what happens?  Those in the crowd hear the familiar psalm interpreted through Peter’s Christ-centred vision and three thousand people are baptised that day.  Three thousand people recognise Christ as the Messiah when, thanks to the Holy Spirit burning in Peter’s heart, he opens the scriptures for them. Christ now opens the scriptures for us, and breaks the bread.  Let’s pray that our hearts are always open to receiving his word and recognising him.  Let’s pray too, that we may live lives wherein others may recognise Christ working through us.

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