“Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”
Were not our hearts burning?…to me these are some of the most comforting words in all of the Bible. Were not our hearts burning? The intimations of immortality that each of us experience in our lives, if we are lucky, the knowledge that, yes, indeed He is Risen.
Poets have felt this, and perhaps unknowingly, set it to paper, this feeling that there is a truth and a comfort deep within us waiting for the right word, the right gesture, to bring us into the light. Wordsworth wrote:
O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
Yet we read, as the father of the stricken boy in Mark says to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” And even here, in acknowledging doubt and the fear of having no faith at all, don’t we find the slightest light still burning? An ember never extinguished that will always be glowing deep within us – the promise of immortality shown us by Jesus?
In today’s reading from Acts, Peter goes even further and, teaching the people the Good News, reveals his own faith and even the small saving words “Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance….” Even here, we see the glow of salvation fanned by the Apostle and offered to the people. All he asked them to do was repent, as John in today’s second reading urges us to do as well: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.”
And what are those commandments? The 10 Moses brought down from the mountain? The Laws in Leviticus? The observance of the rituals of piety?
Jesus gave us two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Two commandments. His task is easy and his burden is light. Love God and Love Your Neighbor.
Love God. Love Your Neighbor.
Don’t those words make your hearts burn within you? Don’t those words explain all the laws and the prophets found in the scriptures? Don’t those words release from you your unbelief and bring you boundless joy? This is the meaning of the teachings on this Third Sunday of Easter: that Jesus has suffered and died for us so that we might have eternal life. All we need to do is acclaim this through our Love of God and Love of Our Neighbor.
Lord, we come before you willing, longing for your peace this Easter Season. We trust that as we walk our own paths to Emmaus, you will teach us to love, and that you will help our unbelief. Amen.
Reading 1ACTS 3:13-15, 17-19
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Reading 21 JN 2:1-5A
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”