1. A few years ago, whenever we turned on the TV,
a. IT seemed that were watching a commercial
1. for Tylenol, for Advil
1. or some other pill that would relieve pain.
b. Doctors said that this was to be expected,
1. Because the baby boomers were getting older,
1. and their bodies weren’t as limber as they used to be.
2. And because their lives were so stressful,
1. that their bodies reacted with tense muscles, back pain and headaches.
2. Nowadays, however, if we see a commercial
a. It isn’t for pain, but for heart burn.
1. From Tums to Zyrtec, from Pepto-Bismol to Prevacid,
1. we are awash with remedies for heartburn,
2. or as it is more ominously called, Acid Reflux.
b. Now I have not heard doctors weigh in on this yet,
1. But I would wager that if they did,
2. they would tell us that the heart burn we experience
1. is not from too much pizza or chili.
3. It is from
1. The ANXIETY caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic which has isolated us and affects our sleep, our relationships and our lives.
2. The ANGER caused by the confused and inadequate response of government to the spread of the virus in those first critical months when it could have been stopped.
3. The FEAR caused by the collapse of the stock market, the implosion of the economy and the loss of so many jobs.
4. IT is little wonder that we all have a bad case of heart burn;
1. for anxiety, anger and fear are all signs that our world is dangerously out of control.
3. In such times of anxiety, anger and fear there has always been one institution
a. that we have turned to for relief from such heart burn,
b. and that has been the Church.
c. With its stable structure and ancient institutions
d. With its bishops, priests and nuns taking the place in our adult lives of the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers we had as children.
e. With its promise that it had the Truth and communicated that truth infallibly to us.
f. The Church has always been the place
1. where we sought comfort in our anxiety, calm in the midst of our anger, and safety from fear.
g. It has been the Pepto-bismol, the bromide, the soothing presence in our lives; our cure for the heart burn of modern life.
a. Until recently. For scandals have rocked the church.
b. The lack of vocations has weakened its ministry, both pastorally and sacramentally,
c. The loss of parishioners endangered its stability, both institutionally and financially.
d. And now right when people clamor for some relief from the heartburn of our upside down life the institutional church is on lockdown, just like everyone else.
e. We, in our anxiety, our anger and fear we wonder, how could it have all gone so wrong.
f. That question will probably take years to unpack; but one thing is for sure; in order to discover the truth – any truth, really, the place to begin is honesty;
4. It was where the very first group of disciples which made up the church had to begin; and they had to begin by realizing they had been wrong.
a. For they believed their rabbi Jesus was the Messiah
1. Promised in the Law and by the prophets
2. A prophet sent by God to bring them the suety of the truth
3. A King sent by God to destroy Israel’s enemies and set up a kingdom wich would
1. comfort Israel in its anxiety
2. calm them in their anger
3. bring safety to their land which was gripped with fear.
4. The Messiah would be their cure for heart burn.
b. But then Jesus did not conquer but was conquered;
1. He was arrested, tried, and crucified as a common criminal.
c. And on that first Easter afternoon, the disciples were anxious, angry and afraid.
1. For they thought they had been right about Jesus but they were wrong
2. They thought they knew the truth about Jesus, but it had been a lie.
5. Perhaps it was fear that caused two followers of Jesus to high - tail it out of Jerusalem to the relative safety of a little one horse town called Emmaus.
6. Perhaps it was anxiety that caused them to debate with each other as they went along
7. Perhaps it was anger that caused one of them, a guy named Cleopas, to turn on the stranger who had joined them in their journey and ridicule him for not knowing what had happened to Jesus .
a. But the stranger did know what happened;
b. and moreover, using the law and the prophets he explained why it had to happen. Just like Jesus would have.
c. And when it came time for supper, he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. Just like Jesus would have.
8. IT was only then that the disciples realized
a. that this stranger was Jesus.
b. They ran back to Jerusalem to tell the others, only to find that Jesus had made himself known to them by appearing to Simon Peter.
c. And they told them that he had made himself known to them in the breaking of bread.
9. And yet, how was it that they knew that this stranger was Jesus?
a. They say it themselves. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way?”
b. Their hearts burned because Jesus was telling them the truth.
1. It was a truth that they knew, but didn’t see
2. It was a truth that they had read in the Law and the prophets but never really realized.
3. And most importantly it was a truth which
1. ENCOURAGED them to face the reality of what had happened to Jesus,
2. ENABLED them to understand why it happened
3. and most importantly EMPOWERED them to return and share this truth with the disciples
c. For their burning hearts told them that the reason they had been wrong about Jesus was that they had not been right enough.
1. For the death of Jesus was not the frustration of their hopes but the fulfilment of God’s plan.
2. That Jesus could never be dead; God would never let that happen.
d. And thus whenever they gathered they could see Jesus
e. Whenever they read the scriptures they could hear Jesus
f. And whenever they took bread, blessed it broke it and shared it they could be with Jesus
1. for he was the one who called them together,
2. he was the one who opened the scriptures to their deepest truth
3. and he was the one who made himself known to them as the one who shared himself in the breaking of the bread.
10. This gathering around bible and bread, word and sacrament, scripture and Eucharist
a. was the deepest truth about the community which one day would be called the Church.
b. And these first disciples knew all it to be true the first time they celebrated it,
1. Not because they were soothed, calmed or comforted by it.
c. But because their hearts were burning within them.
1. Heartburn was all the proof they needed.
11. The same is undoubtedly true today.
a. For the heart burn we experience on a daily basis caused by
1. Anxiety over our safety
2. Anger at our leaders
3. And fear of a would out of control
b. Is not just because of acid reflux,
c. But because our hearts are broken, just like the disciples hearts,
1. For we know in our heart of hearts
1. that this is not the way our lives, our church and our world are supposed to be.
d. but our hearts also burn just like the disciples hearts
1. when we come to places like here.
2. some of us are new members, some of us have been members for our whole lives.
3. And in the amazing diversity of a community called together because of Jesus,
4. Formed and informed through the scriptures by Jesus
5. And united with one another through the sharing of this bread, this meal this mass with Jesus.
6. We catch a glimpse of the way the world, the church, and our lives can be.
7. And then Just like the disciples, our burning broken hearts
1. will encourage us to accept our changed world
2. enable us to see why it happened
3. and most importantly empower us to work together with others to see to it that it never happens again;
4. So that we might become again that voice
5. That speaks the truth – even when we would rather not hear it.
8. For the Church should never be seen as the CURE for heartburn
1. In fact, it could be said that the whole thing started because of heart burn.