Third Sunday of Easter, Year A

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A.

Sunday Church at Home during the Covid-19 Crisis

 

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader: ln the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply: Amen

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply: Blessed be God for ever.

Leader: After recognising that it was Jesus who had been with them as they walked to Emmaus and who shared a meal with them, the two disciples said to each other: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” May we too recognise the Risen Lord who is present to us in his Word, the Scriptures. Let us pray for the grace of hearts and minds that are open to hearing his Word. 

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Acts 2: 14, 22-33

Introduction to the reading: Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles concerns bearing witness to our faith Jesus, and the implications which this witnessing necessarily brings with it. Peter and the other apostles stood firmly in their faith in Christ. They boldly proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, which was the source of their hope as they endured trials for the name of Christ.

 A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

[On the day of Pentecost,] Peter, standing with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and said, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’  “Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.”

 The Word of the Lord.

 

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm beginning and ending with the response:

R/: Lord, you will show me the path of life.

 

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.”

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;

You yourself who secure lot.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,

Who even at night directs my heart.

I keep the Lord before always;

with him at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 

And so, my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;

even my flesh shall rest in hope.

For you will not abandon my soul hell,

Nor let your holy one see corruption.

You will show me the path of life,

The fullness of joy in your presence,

At your right hand, bliss forever.

 

R/: Lord, you will show me the path of life.

 

Second Reading: 1 Pet 1:17-21

Introduction to the reading: Peter draws our attention to the fact the we are saved by the generous gift of God who sent His Son to ransom. It is this e God whom we call our “Father.” While still here on earth, we must behave as true, loyal children of our generous and loving Father. 

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Peter

Beloved: If you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

The Word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia! Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn with love when you speak to us.  Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke

That very day [the first day of the week], two of the disciples of Jesus were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. So, they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So, he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the Eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily prepared by Fr Keith Gordon-Davis

Suppose you and I are strolling along a road and a stranger starts to stroll with us. 

  “What are you discussing as you walked along?” he asks, a little too boldly.

We stop. We are tempted to admit that we were worrying about the coronavirus pandemic. Plus so much else. And we realize we are not supposed to be strolling along a road during lockdown!

So, we need now to stroll in our mind – and think about a significant journey that we have been on. The most significant journey is our journey of life – much too much to think about, so let us choose just a part of that journey.

In 2011, I decided to walk the Camino to Santiago in Spain. It was a pilgrimage where I walked 800km across Spain to Santiago. For over a 1000 years pilgrims from all over have journeyed to the Cathedral of St James. There are many reasons to go on pilgrimage – some may do it as a penance – others at a turning point in life – others are searching for an encounter with God.

I had just turned 50 (and felt so old ☺), was 3 years clear of cancer and so I wanted to use the quiet time to take stock of my life. It was a tough journey for me. It is easy to walk a distance of 25km – it is a lot more difficult to walk the next day and the next day… . 

After 35 days of walking, I reached Cathedral of St James in Santiago in June 2011 – one of the most profound experiences of my life.

Some people who go through a crisis, like the one we are experiencing with the Corona virus, or a sudden illness, or the death of a loved one, will struggle in their faith and wonder: “Where is God?” “Has God abandoned me?” Or even, “Why is God doing this to me?” When people in crisis hear the Easter accounts, like today’s gospel, they get a case of the, “If only’s…” 

“If only I had been there with those frightened disciples when Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst, then I would have strong faith.”

“If only I had seen his wounded hands and feet, I would have shared with him my own hurts.”

“If only I had watched him eat that baked fish by the side of the lake, I would have told him of my own hunger.”

The disciples’ encounter with Jesus on the road is certainly one of the most beautiful in the New Testament. 

It is a story of two people who were so focused on the past they couldn’t see what was right before their eyes. With the death of Jesus their world collapsed. Walking away from Jerusalem they were also walking away from their dreams. They were going back into darkness, as they tell the stranger who has joined them, “It is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” 

They weren’t just speaking about the time of the day. They were returning to their old lives, it seemed nothing had changed and things appeared pretty dark for them.

When Jesus joined them on their journey “…their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” What caused their blindness? Why didn’t they recognize the one they had been following, with whom they had shared their lives? 

Maybe it was because they had their own idea of what they wanted Jesus to be, some kind of king, or a warrior on a mighty stallion who would vanquish the Romans. “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.”

We were hoping . . . 

But Jesus was right there in front of them, in the flesh, to show he was alive. 

Wasn’t that enough? Apparently not, since they didn’t recognize him. Luke wrote his gospel between the years 80-90. The Emmaus account is in the last chapter of his gospel. Neither he, nor his contemporaries, had experienced the risen Christ the way the first disciples had. Like us, they hadn’t seen him in the flesh. Like us they needed reassurance that Christ was truly risen from the dead and was among them. Like us, life sometimes overwhelmed them, leaving them with questions, confusion and doubts. 

We hope to have our faith strengthened; We hope to discover that Jesus isn’t a past-tense phenomenon, merely a great historical figure now long gone. 

We have walked the road to Emmaus. We know how long it is; how it twists and turns; how it doubles back on itself.

When I was walking the Camino, the toughest stage was the day spent walking to the village of O’ Cebreiro. Just past the village there is the Iron Cross which marks the highest point of the journey. The whole day I had steadily been gaining elevation and by lunchtime I thought – this is not too bad. It was mountainous, and then came to a sharp corner. Written on the road were the words ‘Hell starts here’. I noted them because it was written in English. I thought it was a strange thing. Anyway I carried on walking, and now the route was through a forest. The road was climbing steeply, and twisting and turning all the time. This meant I could only see about 20m ahead and about 20m behind. There were other pilgrims also walking, but I couldn’t see anyone else.  And it just went on and on and higher and higher.  It was exhausting, and I couldn’t see my destination – no idea how much more to climb. When I finally reached the summit, it was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and great to connect with my fellow pilgrims.

We know how confusing life can be; how we can feel lost, even forgotten. The road to Emmaus is a road of fallen expectations. 

Haven’t there been times in our lives when we have said, “If only I had….” Or, “I wish I hadn’t….”? When we even uttered the words of the dejected disciples on the road, “We were hoping….”, When a marriage didn’t last… a personal goal never realized… a child went off the deep end… an illness severely limited our capabilities. 

At times like these, the words of the two disciples are ours as well, “We were hoping….”

On my journey, I would walk with someone for a while and chat to anyone who spoke English. Other times I would walk on my own. That allowed me to reflect on my life so far. By the time I finished the Camino, the most significant learning for me was being able to say that I accept the decisions I have made in my life. Some could be better, but I am okay with my choices and with my life.

It is on our journey of life that we see the risen Christ with us. 

For the two disciples, Jesus begins by explaining the Scriptures to them. In other words, the biblical Word of God is proclaimed and explained so that new insight is given to the disciples. Then, after having the Word of God opened for them, the  disciples gather around the table with Jesus where bread is blessed, broken and given to them. 

This is what we do when we come together for Mass: We listen and experience the Word of God. The priest breaks the Bread – and we recognised the Risen Jesus in the Body of Christ. “the breaking of the bread” – was, and still is, a term used for the Eucharist. 

At mass, our “eyes are opened” and we meet the risen Lord when we gather to hear the Word of God and “break the bread” together. 

We meet Jesus daily in our life’s journey – through our personal and family prayers; and through our family meals. When we meet our risen Lord through the Word of God, we commune with him. We renew our relationship with Jesus through prayer. All these meetings prepare and enable us to encounter the risen Jesus living in all the people we meet and to do Him humble, loving and selfless service in each of them.

Reflection questions

  • Think about the regrets I have experienced in my life. Where was God in that time?
  • What are the different ways we can meet Jesus in our life’s journey?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader: As God’s beloved children, let us turn to our Father on our behalf and on behalf all who need our prayers, praying to Him through Christ who is the Way, the truth and the Life. 

Reader: We pray for the Church: (PAUSE) that we may always offer prayerful and reverent worship to God, whom we call our Father. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who work in healthcare: (PAUSE) that God may reach out to our ill brothers and sisters through their care and service. 

 LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who have contracted the Coronavirus: (PAUSE) that there would be appropriate medical care for them and that they will be healed and restored to good health.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for the leaders of our country: (PAUSE) that they may act with wisdom and charity as they establish measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.  

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all nations: (PAUSE) that this crisis may lead to a world rich in mercy and compassion, solidarity and hope, and a recognition of our common humanity.

 LORD HEAR US

We pray for all working on clinical trials and research: (PAUSE)

 that God may inspire and give insight to our scientists and researchers, developing treatments or researching vaccines.

 LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

 (PAUSE) LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who have died this week, especially those with the Covid-19 virus.

 Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine on them.

 May they rest in peace. Amen.

Leader: Let us pray a prayer for healing:

All pray: O God, who alone make us dwell in safety. We pray for all who are affected by the coronavirus; through illness, isolation and anxiety, may they may find relief and recovery. You who is our refuge and stronghold, safeguard the health and well-being of all nations, that all who are fearful and anxious may be at peace and freed from worry. Be with the isolated and housebound; may we be alert to their needs and care for them in their vulnerability. 

Bless our communities, that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship, where all are known and cared for. We commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray, to your love, mercy and protection.

Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

 By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. Here is the Act of Spiritual Communion written by St. Alphonsus:

My Jesus,

 I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

 I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.

 Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,

 come at least spiritually into my heart.

 I embrace You as if You were already there

 and unite myself wholly to You.

 Never permit me to be separated from You.

 Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Leader: O God, the Resurrection of your Son has given us new life and renewed hope. Help us to live as new people in pursuit of the Christian ideal. Grant us wisdom to know what we must do, the will to want to do it, the courage to undertake it, the perseverance to continue to do it, and the strength to complete it. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All: Amen

Blessing

Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen.

Instrumental music may be played or a hymn may be sung.