“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Let’s start again this week from music. Would we happen to know how many songs talk about ‘hearts on fire,’ ‘hearts aflame?’ There are at least twelve. Probably a lot more.
Songwriters like the image of hearts on fire because it evokes a passion and desire so necessary to them in drawing pictures of love and even loss. Bryan Adams ‘Hearts On Fire’ is from his album ‘Into The Fire.’ Those titles, cobbled together, speak to what the disciples on the road to Emmaus were experiencing. They went from hearts burning within them to hearts on fire for the gospel, for bringing people to the knowledge of Jesus. Their hearts would not let them stop as long as there were souls in need of salvation.
In their journey with Jesus the disciples felt their hearts being enkindled by the words of scripture, and in fact by Jesus’ very presence. They were experiencing God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus in their midst. They felt. within themselves, an urge for more.
Hearts on fire is a motivator to action and to living the gospel way. We, like those disciples, are called by the fire within us to go out into the fire, to bring Jesus word and way to souls in need of salvation.
St. Paul traveled about, proclaiming the gospel message, often to people who wanted nothing to do with it. He could not, nor would he, stop. We might ask ourselves why he did it. After government officials, Jews in the diaspora, followers of empty stone rejected him over and over, after they tried to stone him, after numerous arrests and ninety-nine plus percent of people rejecting his message – why still try? Because the fire would not let him stop, not even rest. It needs to be the same for us.
In this time of crisis, we feel the fire deeply. If we long for normality, if we long for something in particular, how much greater our longing should be for, our fire be, for the salvation of souls.
The debate over faith of the heart or the brain has gone on for ages. Is faith felt or intellectualized? The reality is that Jesus speaks to each of us in the way that best ignites the fire, the passion, the drive to be His witnesses to all who are without hope, whose hearts and minds also cry out to be lit aflame by the Lord. Now is the time to self-listen, to recognize our hearts already aflame with the Lord, His gospel, and to help others realize their faith and hope are in God.