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For Your Weekend: What Sets Your Heart on Fire?

Kristy Malik

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Luke 24:1335

How often does Scripture really make sense to you? Honestly, it’s not something that happens easily or quickly for me. I can read the same verse or passage over and over again and not really “get it.” I know there’s so much goodness and truth in the Bible, but sometimes it’s a struggle to figure out what it means for me personally. Can you relate? 

Recently, I had a moment when Scripture was broken open for me in a new way. It happened at a regular Sunday Mass. In the homily, our priest explained the gospel reading as it related to the Old Testament in a way I had never considered before—and he spoke with such passion that everyone in the church was on the edge of their seats. His teaching was intellectual, practical, and heartfelt (and less than 10 minutes long—a win for those of us with squirmy kids)! My husband and I looked at each other afterward and mouthed the words, “Wow.” I will never forget his teaching when I hear those particular verses of Scripture again. 

That experience reminded me of the story from our gospel passage this weekend. In it, the resurrected Jesus appears to two men on their way to Emmaus without being recognized by them. The two men are discouraged and sad, discussing the last few days' events (Jesus’ passion and death). Then Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

I can only imagine their feeling of awe as the pieces of the messianic puzzle clicked into place while Jesus spoke. Gosh, I wish I could have been there to hear that conversation!

Upon reaching their destination, it says in verse 28 that Jesus “gave the impression that he was going on farther.” They invited Him to stay with them since it was getting late. So Jesus went in, and while He was there, “he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:30–31). They immediately left and ran the seven miles back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles about their experience. 

I can easily obsess about the part of this passage where Jesus explained the Scriptures in a way that “made their hearts burn within them” (Luke 24:32). It’s how I felt that one Sunday a few months ago. If you’ve ever heard a great homily or read a fantastic devotional, it’s only natural to want to experience that kind of enlightenment every time we hear or read Scripture. 

The reality, though, is that most of us aren’t going to feel like the Scriptures have come alive for us every time we read them. We aren’t going to have an amazing, mind-blowing homily every time we attend Mass. But the good news is that these things aren’t required for us to encounter Jesus in a personal way. 

Theologian Peter Kreeft says, “The two disciples did not yet recognize Jesus when he lit up the Scriptures like a fire for them. When did they recognize him...when He celebrated the Eucharist with them.”[1]

Even after the disciples heard the extraordinary teaching from Jesus, they still didn't realize it was Him. It was only after they invited Him in and broke bread with Him that they recognized Him.

This should come as a relief to those of us who struggle to understand Scripture and yearn to hear great homilies every Sunday. 

“Scripture is just the first step, and it’s meant to prepare us for the second step, his real presence in the Eucharist.” —Peter Kreeft[2]

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we don’t need an extensive understanding of Scripture to invite Him in. We simply have to desire His presence. And when we invite Jesus in, He reveals Himself to us. The Eucharist is where we experience Jesus personally: body, blood, soul, and divinity. And He is present to us whether we feel it or not.

I pray that our pastors, preachers, and teachers will continue to use their gifts to make Scripture come alive for more and more people. And honestly? I will still seek out great talks and teachings so that I can know Scripture more deeply. But even if all the best Scripture teaching in the world was taken away, I know that won’t stop me from encountering Jesus in a real, tangible way—and that goes for all of us. He is always present to us spiritually in the Scriptures and physically in the Eucharist. We just have to invite Him in; He will always come.

With you on the journey,

Food for thought or journaling…

If I haven’t felt the presence of God in a while, when can I make time to stop by the closest tabernacle for quiet prayer? If I heard a great homily or read an excellent Scripture reflection recently, who can I share it with? 

Lord, thank you for those who bring others closer to You through preaching and teaching. Thank You for the Bible. I ask for the perseverance to seek You, whether I feel close to You or not. Reveal to me Your presence in a new and powerful way this week. Amen. 

[1] Kreeft, Peter. Food for the Soul (Park Ridge, IL: Word on Fire, 2022), 318.
[2] Ibid. 139.

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