With Hearts Afire

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.  They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:30-32

I first encountered Jesus at the age of 7. Not that he wasn’t there all the time, but I simply had not so clearly recognized him before. Sure, I knew my heavenly Father- marveling at his wondrous surprises each day and felt his guiding hand as I was at play. And yes, I experienced His profound love for me through the tender care of my family, but it truly was not until then that I began to understand the immensity of what that love entailed. A heart set ablaze by the love of Christ’s sacrifice for me and a unquenchable desire to seek him in all that I do.

” Do you really know the living Jesus—not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace; He is longing to give it.  Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person—not just the idea.” St. Teresa of Calcutta

Cooperation isn’t for cowards

Did I fully realize the lifelong commitment that I was undertaking? One that would not be easy, even arduous at times, and require both surrender and trust to the journey ahead?  That would carry me from a small Southern Baptist pew to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome? While that might be the basis for a good made-for-tv movie, I can truly say my God is both the God of promise and surprise. Truth is, none of us have any idea what God has in store when we turn our lives over to him and choose to follow Christ. Yet, to accompany Christ is to align our will and our steps to his, to let go of the known to embrace the unknown gift ahead. We might be willing to settle, but the full screen cinematic blockbuster story is a much more convincing witness than anything we could have dreamt of.

Here, in this blessed state of bewilderment God awaits for us to ask for direction and here his presence and guidance becomes discernible. On beginning our walk to Emmaus we actually find it comforting to turn over the events of the day. In sharing these joys and sorrows we might feel lighter, comforted initially by the awareness that we are not alone. But in this journey with Christ, there is so much more!

Real Presence

If we left the story here, our hearts that burned would fizzle and the memory fade amidst our daily activities. Yet, we recognize the familiarity of his words and become accustomed to his stride longing to spend more time with him. This walk of fellowship ushers us to dine together, and in sharing our brokenness we finally partake in the full presentness of our  friend and savior. This is the Pascal mystery- this is Eucharist.

As a protestant, my heart too burned in anticipation of the Lord’s Supper and yet was left without its fulfillment. Mere remembrances of Christ’s gift simply could not satisfy the deeper longing I experienced. Now as a Catholic, the Eucharist is that tangible real presence, the full response to that hunger of our hearts that cannot be contained. For, with the swing of the doors of the church we are given the graced responsibility anew to share the joy of the Gospel with hearts afire!

And may that fire never be extinguished!

Peace,

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Witness the Resurrection

 

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:10

There is a moment at the Easter Vigil where the whole atmosphere seems to be transformed from tranquil, dim and somber to one of joyful euphonious illumination. It was here that this scripture found me and resonated the joy present for these women. The austere mournful mystery of the tomb revealed not as defeat but as Christ’s victory over death, and we as witnesses to that certainty. And in an instant, with feet set on the path and my heart filled joy I yearn to share the Good News to everyone I encounter. “For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” As Archbishop Fulton Sheen would say,  our testimony is but

“to tell people about the life and death of Christ. Every other approach is a waste.”

And yet..why don’t we?

With dishes done, and our family dissipated we can so easily let our Easter promises rest at the close of the day. Yet, the fact should not escape us, as Catholics, that Easter comprises a entire season. A period of 50 days beginning with Easter and concluding with Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Where, we are then sent forth to the ends of the earth to continue our witness to others of the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives today.

For, “modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. St. Pope Paul VI

And what about when we experience opposition from others to our witness?

Should that be a reason for our idleness or should we through prayer and perseverance continue to run the race? St. Maximillian Kolbe knew where the real battle lay, and what was found in Christ that no one could take away or refute.

“No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?”

So as each of us goes forward this Easter season we must as the disciples did, search our hearts and allow the presence of the risen Christ to comfort and strengthen us for reception of the Holy Spirit.

Pray:

Lord, we are overwhelmed at the depth of your love and mercy for us- all the way to the cross. We stand amazed as we gaze at the empty tomb and wonder what you would have us do in the days ahead.  Yet, you have not left us alone. Your victory you share with us as well as your cross. Please let our joyful encounter be our sincere prayer and sacrifice as we seek to witness the truth of your glorious resurrection. Amen.

Peace,

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