By Deborah Kendrick
“O Happy Day . . . O Happy Day when Jesus washed my sins away. . .” the songwriter was extoling that which we celebrate this very day, the Resurrection of Jesus. Across centuries and continents, it is this day that is marked for the rejoicing of mankind. On Friday, Two Millennia ago, Jesus released His expiring breath and the veil in the temple that separated us from the forbidding presence and power of God was torn in two from top to bottom. The message unfolded: My Presence is no longer hidden behind a curtain and all are welcome to come in.
The next day, Saturday, all held fast; it was the Sabbath.
Now as the first day of the week arrived, events began unfolding rapidly and mysteriously. Very early before the sun rose, a small group of women made their way to where Jesus was laid. Finding the stone rolled away with an angel sitting upon it, they were the first to witness the glorious emptiness of His tomb.
Jesus had overcome sorrow, suffering, all sickness, Hell, death and the grave . . . forever and for us. So how did Jesus spend this first day of His forty days on earth after the resurrection? By revealing Himself. On the same day He arose, Jesus was seen five times. First He appeared to Mary Magdalene who was alone in the garden, then to these women who left the empty tomb to go and tell the disciples, to Peter, to two disciples on their way to Emmaus and finally, at night to the eleven.
I love these moments as they are related in the Bible because we are able to observe how Jesus approaches us. Let us pause for a moment to follow behind two men walking to Emmaus. Jesus approaches them and asks what they are discussing. Knowing everything, He acted as if He knew nothing. In doing so, Jesus makes room for us to draw from His wisdom and His Presence. Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explains to the two men everything concerning Himself in the Scriptures. What one would give to have a full account of Jesus’ message to them.
Through the years, I have leaned into this occurrence on the road to Emmaus, searching with my heart what Jesus might have said to them. Perhaps He invoked the most ancient of all prophetic voices, Job. After many months of intense suffering Job cries out from the bottom of his afflictions, If a man dies, will he live again? (Job 14:14). In the simplest of terms, the whole of the Bible is God’s reply to this haunting question of all mankind. In answering it for Job, God also answers it for us. Job beheld Jesus when he proclaimed:
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart yearns within me.”
Approaching Emmaus, Jesus feigned that He was going on farther. “Stay with us,” they urged and He did. Yet they still had not recognized Him. When He took the bread, blessed it, broke it and began giving it to them their eyes were opened. As they realized Whom they were with, He vanished.
Recounting His explanation of the Scriptures to them, they said, Were not our hearts burning within us? (Luke 24:32) The two men returned to Jerusalem that night and while they were relating their story to the disciples of how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, He appeared amongst them.
Job had a yearning heart; the sojourners to Emmaus had burning hearts. In both accounts the hearts knew what the eyes had not yet seen.
On this day, where are our own hearts?
Like the men going to Emmaus, we also ache, holding onto Jesus and beg Him to “Stay with us.” Jesus more often replies ever so tenderly.
Stay with Me. Stay with me that I may visit you. The veil is torn in two; I am fully present to you at all times. Stay with Me and ask for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit in your own life. Stay with Me that you become established in My truth, mighty in My power and resplendent in My Glory. Always remember, I will never leave you or forsake you.
O, Happy Day!
OUR LOVING FATHER IN HEAVEN, THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF YOUR PRECIOUS SON. JESUS, THANK YOU OF THE GIFT OF YOUR HEART TO US. HOLY SPIRIT, YOU ARE THE ILLUMINATOR OF OUR HEARTS. YOU ARE FASHONING US IN THE LIKENESS OF JESUS. GRACE US TO BE MELTED, LOVING, KIND, COURAGEOUS, WHOLE-HEARTED AND SINGLE-MINDED. CREATE IN US A NEW HEART, A PURE HEART THAT WE MAY SEEK THE THINGS ABOVE. WE ASK FOR A NEW PENTECOST IN OUR LIVES THAT WE MAY LIVE THE RESURRECTED LIFE THAT YOU PURPOSED FOR EACH OF US. GLORIFY YOURSELF IN US. AMEN.
About the Author:
Deborah Kendrick came into the Catholic Church in 2011 through her interaction with Catholics in ecumenical meetings though out Europe, where she was a conference speaker and led retreats for twenty years. During her testimony, she says, “The French Catholics just loved me into the Church.” She was first ignited for the Lord at the beginning of the outpouring of the Charismatic Renewal. With her husband William, a fine artist, and their five children they traveled extensively, living in France, England and Israel. Deborah’s heart is to see people know and receive the love God has for them which encompasses a New Pentecost for the new evangelization. “God is calling us closer in this hour. Open hearts bring an open Heaven.” You can view more of William’s paintings at www.jerusalemcityofgold.com