“Were not our hearts burning inside us as He spoke to us on the road?” Luke 24
This burning heart business, how do we keep it going? I wonder about those two disciples. I wonder how long their hearts were burning over the message or the person of Jesus. I would be willing to bet the burning lasted a lifetime. But it was not the same as on the road to Emmaus. Nothing sustains that kind of enthusiasm permanently. But we do want to keep burning.
How long do married couples keep their burning going after the wedding? I hope the love goes on forever, but almost certainly, the passion will not. I must admit, after a wedding when I hear them singing, “Please Release Me” on the way out of church, it does give me an uneasy feeling. Just kidding! But, how do we keep the flame of enthusiasm alive?
If we live on the surface of life, we will never make it. If we are to keep enthusiasm for our commitments, we have to dig deep within ourselves. We usually think of the “burning”, the enthusiasm, as a spontaneous emotion. It is that, and it feels wonderful. But such spontaneous emotions do not last long. In life, love and enthusiasm must become an act of the will. We are enthused because we decide to be. We love because we choose to. This is not supposed to be easy. Commitments are never easy.
We know that we cannot go through life in a high state of hysteria. We see people who try, and they can be a real trial. I know people who try to be brimming with happiness every single minute. Spare me! That is simply not real. But we can keep some burning going on in our hearts. The love of God does not have to be just another reality we take for granted.
When God comes for us at the hour of our death, may He find us still burning for His Presence.
- Fr. James O'Leary