Did not our hearts burn within us?

I SLEEP, but my heart is awake: the voice of my kinsman knocks at the door, saying, Open, open to me, my companion, my sister, my dove, my perfect one.

Song of Songs 5:2.


The story of Cleopas and the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:12-35) is one of the great stories of Easter.

The dejected disciples entertain a stranger who expounds the Scriptures concerning Jesus. But they do not really believe him — until he breaks bread in a manner which only one man they know could do.

AND it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they knew him. And he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Patriarch Daniel at the Easter liturgy in Bucharest.

Patriarch Daniel at the Easter liturgy in Bucharest.


“I AM come” he said “to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12:49).

The Lord obviously did send fire on earth: he set the fleshy heart alight with the breath of the holy Spirit. And earth is burning, when the fleshy heart cold in its former desires abandons the lusts of the present age, and is set alight with desire for God.

“Did not our heart burn within us” (they said), “while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

For of course the soul kindles at hearing the speech: the cold of the body recedes, the mind is made troubled with a celestial desire, estranged from earthly lusts.

Should true love have so filled the mind again, it torments with tears. But while it is tormented by such ardour, while it suffers with its own torments, it hears heavenly precepts gladly, and by what it is taught in commandments, it is set aflame, as by so many torches.

St Bede, monk of Jarrow (+735). Commentary on St Luke. My amateur translation.


CHRIST, who is the Life and the Way, being back from among the dead, journeyed together with Cleopas and Luke, to whom he was made known at Emmaus in breaking the bread.

Their souls and hearts were aflame as he spoke with them upon the road, and explained with the Scriptures the things which he had undergone.

With them let us cry aloud,

‘He has been raised and has appeared to Peter!’

Resurrection Exapostilarion.


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