“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24
Take some time to read the verses of the poem below and see if anything speaks particularly to you and stay and meditate on it.
Excerpts from the poem are from the book “Holy Week Voices from the Holy Land”
As soon as the Passover curfew ends
Cleopas and his wife Mary
two had-been disciples slip through a city gate
beating a retreat, not looking backwards
deserters from the battlefield
hiding their colours beneath the pilgrims’ cloaks
shattered and dejected
their longed- for Messiah rejected
broken and executed.
Heads down, shoulders slumped
little to say, future in the past
homeless returning home
when suddenly a figure joins them
previously unseen, unheard
simply dressed in a long -sleeved robe
no pilgrim’s pack, no traveller’s load
startled as if by a ghost
their eyes not open to recognise their Lord
this man seems to know nothing
of the dramas and traumas of these days
a wolf in sheep’s clothing
or a true innocent abroad?
Yet something about him
a warmth, a presence, a calm
slowly persuades them to talk
share their grief and laments
to open their hearts heavy with regrets.
We had hoped that he was the one
sent to redeem our people
and free us from slavery’s yoke…
We gave up everything to follow him
but now there is nothing left …
We watched him crushed upon the cross
Everything is shattered, everything is lost…
The stranger stops
and holds them with his eyes
Your sadness, he says
is part of a greater sadness
a veil of grief which has covered creation
since the time of rupture and rebellion
exile and damnation
but in this sadness,
the seeds of new life, new birth
the seeds of joy are sown
for from the harrowed earth
the crucified has risen
the veil has been torn apart
and the dawn of divine union
is even now breaking into the human heart.
For hours they listen and learn
hanging on his every word
sometimes resting, seated by the way
sometimes pressing on
until the evening’s rays
bring them to the Emmaus home.
He makes as if to leave them
some other home to reach
but they beg and beseech him
to stay and share with them a meal
a thanksgiving, a reward
for his kindness on the road.
Candles lit, wine poured
in flickering stillness the trio pause
then raising his eyes to heaven
the stranger takes the bread
and as he lifts it high
his long sleeves fall to his wrists
and they see the wounds in his hands
and the holes in his palms impaled by nails
their own blindness pierced
in this moment of revelation, of Eucharist.
Gasping the two look at each other in awe
but then turning back
their Lord has vanished without a trace
his light, his presence no more
seated on the chair before them
but somehow alive now in the core of their being
a lamp lit never to be snuffed out
illuminating before them a new path of believing and seeing.
Without discussion or hesitation
they leap to their feet
and turn their eyes to the City of God
running back along the road
they had so slowly walked before.
Did not our hearts burn within us
as he talked and taught
opening for us the scriptures
the very author of the book.
At dawn they had left
seeing only darkness
now at dusk they return
radiant and joyful hope
back to the Upper Room
back to the twelve
themselves visited by the Lord.
eyes opened burning and bright
Cleopas and Mary run towards the light.
reversing the curse of Adam and Eve
who, blinded by sin and greed
poisoned by pride
had been from paradise exiled.
Ancient promise fulfilled
Mary’s boy has crushed the serpent’s head
the Tree of Life’s tragic deathbed
now healed by Christ’s broken
blessed body on the trunk of the cross
Spring time from Winter’s frozen soil awoken
heaven’s gates opened
Jesus Christ our Saviour, Redeemer and Lord!
SCRIPTURE READING LUKE 24: 13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Keep a time of silence as you reflect on what you have read.
SUGGESTED QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
We see in Cleopas and Mary the joy and exhilaration in knowing Christ’s personal and passionate love for them. In what ways have you experienced this joy, this freedom in your life?
The words of scripture had a transforming power on Cleopas and Mary- “Were not our hearts burning within us when he opened the scriptures to us.” What place does God’s word have in your own journey of faith?
In what way does this image speak to you?
Lord God, you brought us healing through the Easter mysteries. Continue to be bountiful to your people: lead us to the perfect freedom, by which the joy that gladdens our way on earth will be fulfilled in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen