“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”(Luke 24.32)

THERE IS hope dashed in the voice that says, on the road that night long ago, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” Had hoped or had been hoping. It matters little which interpretation you choose. The past perfect tense makes it clear. The we who together walk toward Emmaus that first Easter, weren’t hoping anymore. However hard they examined the happenings of the recent weeks, the fact was plain. The man Jesus who had inspired the people so, was not the long awaited Messiah. He had been crucified to death. Everyone knows crucifixion is the final proof that the Romans are in charge. The Messiah could never be controlled by them or any other earthly authority. So many ‘messiahs’ had risen up. All of them shown up for the mere rebels they were, by the sword or the cross. This Jesus had seemed different. He seemed so wise. So knowing of God. Even called God, “Daddy”. This time, the people really “had been hoping…” But no. The wait must go on…

And yet, there, walking the road with them, opening Truth to them, inviting them to walk in its Light, is the very Hope of all hopes. Jesus Christ. Risen. Alive. Here. Now. On the road. At supper. In the heart that burns as it receives God’s word, as the Holy Spirit awakens the soul.

Do you know Jesus as he walks with you? Or are you too busy “examining the evidence”, arguing your theological corner, expressing your take on “life, the universe and all that,” thinking in the ways you’ve been taught to think?

Religion can do that to people. Instead of shedding the light of truth, illumining the path we walk with God, helping us to harmonise with the unexplainable beauty of what Is, religion can build defences for our insecurities. Webs of doctrine too often cocoon the initiated in an impenetrable cloak of smug, false ‘knowing’. Have you ever tried to speak about faith to someone who has stopped you on the street or called at your home to tell you about the ‘true’ religion you’re missing out on because you go or don’t go to church? If you have, you know well this impenetrable cloak, oblivious to and completely uninterested in any kind of reason.

But, as Frederick Buechner wrote, even though “you and I see so little because of our unrecognizing eyes,” God meets us where we are, seeing “each one of us as the child in red.”

So when you are reading, or walking, gazing at the sea or receiving God’s body in church, and you feel your heart burning within you, then be still and know, God is here.

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on May 3, 2014.

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