Our hearts were burning within us

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In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the road to Emmaus. In this story, two disciples, leave Jerusalem full of disappointment over Jesus’ death. They encounter a stranger, who turns out to be… well either you know, or you don’t, and if you don’t this would be a spoiler. Go ahead, read the passage, it is right here.  This may be familiar, but let me tell you, every year I hear about the road to Emmaus, or read it, I feel such excitement. Sort of like my heart burning within me, but in a good way, not an antacid way!

This story always reminds me of the many ways and times that I have unexpectedly encountered Jesus. No, regrettably I do not always realize that it is Jesus I am speaking with, but somehow my heart starts to burn within. And this has happened with every sort of person, which gratefully, IMHO anyway, is a gift. Jesus has the potential to be in all of us, especially in the most unlikely places.

What are some of your “Emmaus” moments, when your heart was burning within you and then you realized that you had just spent time with Jesus? I hope that some of you will take the time to share your experiences in the comments.

One place where I have trod that road to Emmaus, has been graduate school. During the summer of 2008, I began a conversation with Katherine Hanley, CSJ, PhD, known to most of us as Sister Kitty, about studying at the Albany extension of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. A few short weeks later, I walked into my first class, and my heart has been burning within me ever since. Tonight I will walk into the final session of my last class, heart burning, of course!

Burning hearts aside, it should not be a surprise that I love this Gospel, especially if you read the last line.

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

There will be bread, and in this way, we come to know Christ, always.

Please share your own Emmaus moments in the comments!


6 thoughts on “Our hearts were burning within us

  1. Beautiful Fran, and I agree, there are so many unexpected times when just as I am convinced that no one is listening, Christ shows his face through someone, clear enough to break down the barriers of my own heart and I feel that familiar glow again. This passage makes me so grateful…that it is included in our story. Reminding me not to rely on my own understanding, reminding me that God is working all around me. Such a comfort. Such a gift.


  2. In the Greek of the passage, the verb for “was made known” is, in its dictionary entry, γινώσκω, “know”. Here it is used in the passive, as if the Eucharist celebrated by the Lord impressed onto the minds of the men of Emmaus the profundity of the paschal mystery. The companions of Christ could not understand the significance of the breaking of the bread without the presence and action of the resurrected Lord.

    All believers understand the Eucharist in “bits and pieces”. Over the years we learn more and more about Mass but never fully grasp its power and innate genius. The same is true for the companions on the way to Emmaus. The impression of knowledge gained through their participation in the Eucharist is significant, but only a glimmer of knowledge along the path of belief.

    Fran, my address is florentior at gmail dot com should you wish to reach me.



  3. I loved the slide show, thank you for assembling all those images! I am sometimes surprised just as the disciples were, talking to someone and realizing, God is in this place, in this person. Now.


  4. I LOVE the Emmaus story, Fran! I find the heart-burning (good type!) moments come around the family table when all five adult kiddies, grand-kiddies, spouses and partners are there. The laughter, story-telling, and joy in being together again is a true touch of heaven….a fore-taste of eternal banquets to come. God is truly recognized in the simple act of gathering and breaking bread together.

    The final session of your last class….does this mean you’ve completed your grad program? Mega congrats to you! 🙂


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