How is Your Heart?

How is the condition of your heart? Broken hearted? Faint-hearted?

Another heart condition is found in the Emmaus story in Luke’s gospel (24:13-35) which is set down as the gospel reading for today. In fact, it is only mentioned in Luke and not in any of the other gospels! A brief summary –two disciples have left Jerusalem and are headed towards the village of Emmaus roughly 11 kilometres away. Along the way, they are joined by a stranger who gives them a bible study on the run! Later, gathered together around a table the stranger ‘took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them” (24:30). Luke tells that it was then that the two disciples recognised the stranger whom had walked with them along the road and now breaking bread with them was Jesus all along. They respond saying: “were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”(24:32) The disciples left Jerusalem probably broken hearted and faint-hearted following the episodes leading up to Good Friday. Luke makes it obvious their encounter with Jesus motivates them to return to Jerusalem to bear good news that “the Lord has risen indeed” (24:34) to the other disciples.

In the famous cartoon series ‘Peanuts” Lucy, pictured with an air of discouragement, questions, “Do you think that life has any meaning when you have failed nine spelling tests in a row, and your teacher hates you?” I’m certain most of us have experienced seasons of being faint-hearted from despair, times when as though life is collapsing all around us. We all experienced such times, of loneliness, confusion and pain. The disciples of Jesus were no different from you and me.

John Wesley spoke of his experience of encountering the grace of God firsthand as a time when his heart was strangely warmed. Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed—are these not indications of an Easter power and presence within us, of the risen Christ’s Spirit? Burning hearts, hearts strangely warmed, are hearts aflame with the promise of new life the resurrection points to, with the good news that fear and death do not have the final word, that love is stronger than hatred, that peace is indeed a possibility.

Bernard of Clairvaux was a medieval reformer, mystic and prolific writer on the love of God. He penned words to a famous hymn:

O Jesus, joy of loving hearts,
the fount of life, the light of all,
from fullest bliss that earth imparts
we turn unfilled to hear your call.

We taste you, ever-living Bread,
and long to feast upon you still;
we drink of you, the fountain-head,
our thirst to quench, our souls to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for you
where’re our changeful lot is cast;
glad when you smile on us anew,
blest that our faith can hold you fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay;
make all our moments calm and bright!
Chase the dark night of sin away;
shed o’er the world your holy light!

Bernard of Clairvaux (~1160)

However, the condition of your heart, may you encounter the grace and peace of the risen Christ on your journey.

Hallelujah, Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed!

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