Did not our hearts burn within us?

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The Church joyfully proclaims the resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday. We declare that Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Our song is Alleluia. The Christian world lifts its voice in exultation at the wonder of the Resurrection of the Lord, and the joy and hope this brings to our lives.

The first Easter Sunday, though, was more muted. The tomb was empty. The women coming to embalm the body were confused. The Apostles were incredulous on hearing the report that the Lord had risen from the dead. St Luke mentions that when St Peter went to see the tomb and found it empty “he went home wondering at what had happened”.

When the Lord appeared to the Apostles on the Sunday evening they were still struggling to believe that it was indeed the risen Lord. St Luke records the Lord’s words to them, “Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts”.

Sometimes it is easier to accept bad news than to embrace good news. Sometimes, like the disciples, the experience of darkness and difficulty dulls our senses to the extent that we cannot see the light as it begins to dawn. When we have been burdened with failure or lost in a personal darkness, hope sometimes takes a longer time to rise in our hearts even when the danger passes.

The faithful of the Catholic Church in Australia have been hit again and again by bad news. Like the disciples we can sense that the Lord has been taken from us and we have been abandoned. For many in the Church there seems so little to cling to.

We are like the Apostles on Holy Saturday, stunned and uncertain. In this state of mind it is difficult to lift our hearts in confident hope. Yet our faith declares this wonderful truth that Christ has indeed conquered the darkness of sin and death. A victory has been won, even if its reality is hard to see and even harder to embrace.

This Easter as we sing our hymns of joyful exultation let us allow our hearts to follow our voices. In the end our faith is not grounded in our experiences but it is founded in our trust in Christ. We can be reassured that the risen Christ still walks with us, as he did for the two downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognise who he was as he spoke to them on the road. It was the risen Christ who chose to join them on their journey from Jerusalem. They had lost all hope. Their dreams were shattered. Jesus, the risen Lord, simply engaged in conversation with them. This conversation lifted their spirits and afterwards they commented, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road”.

May each of us this Easter find our hearts stirred and enflamed as we realise that the risen Christ is indeed with us as we walk amid the darkness. He is risen and all will be well.


Julian Porteous
Archbishop of Hobart