I found the words used in today’s Gospel Acclamation could be the anthem for this current Year of the Word – “Lord Jesus, explain the scriptures to us. Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.” They are of course a direct reference to the response of Cleopas and an un-named disciple to their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

In the Missal1 which I use there is a short introduction to today’s readings from Pope Benedict XVI which says

“The locality of Emmaus has not been identified with certainty. There are various hypotheses for this and this one is not without an evocativeness of its own for it allows us to think that Emmaus actually represents every place: the road that leads there is the road every Christian, every person, takes. The Risen Jesus makes himself our travelling companion as we go on our way; to rekindle the warmth of faith and hope in our hearts and to break the bread of eternal life.”

This companionship or accompaniment is evident in the Scriptures today, in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St Peter reminds the Jews of King David’s ancient words (now Psalm 16) “I saw the Lord before me always for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So my heart was glad… It is their faith in Jesus walking beside them that gave the apostles at the time and the martyrs down throughout the centuries, the courage to speak up and to act on behalf of Jesus. Later in the same Psalm we are told that God “will not abandon our souls to Hades,” and that He will make “known the way of life to me”. All of these promises from God, that he will be with us on our journey whatever that entails.

The journey theme continues with the Psalm used today with our response or rather our plea is “Show us Lord, the path of life.” Jesus told Thomas the night before He died that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one can go to the Father except through him (Jn 14:6). The path or the way is clear; it is Jesus. In the Second reading St Peter; again writing to the Jewish diaspora; warns them to be “scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from home,” St Peter recognises that people away from their communities need that extra support and reminds them of the sacrifice Jesus made for us all.

I’d like you to pause for a few moments now and think –

How have I encountered Jesus in this past week?

Where have I recognised Him accompanying me?

For me it was a simple everyday thing. Whilst Pam & I we were on a video call to friends our phone rang, it was our next door neighbour’s son, who lives more than an hour from us [I could see this as his name was displayed]. I could have stayed on our video call or answer the call. I decided to answer. He explained that his elderly mother was not answering any telephone calls from him nor from his aunt who lives twenty minutes away. He asked if I could pop next door to check that she was okay? I did as requested and after a few minutes we discovered to both her son’s and my relief, that everything was fine except for a flat battery on her phone.

In these days where everyone’s journey is so different to the one we normally travel, we have to use our time wisely. We have to take up the little opportunities to help, we need to remember that Jesus is beside us at all times. Sometimes he is pointing us gently towards those who need help, sometimes he is urging us to seek help. One of the most beautiful things about Jesus is that he allows himself to be in everyone, he allows us to be the person to help the vulnerable and he allows us to be the person to make ourselves vulnerable enough, to ask for and accept help. Pride is a sin, to need help and to be too proud to ask is preventing others from having the opportunity to love their neighbour. To see someone in need and to turn your back on them risks being separated from God’s flock. (Mt 25:31-46)

I have been impressed by the innovation shown by priests in our country during the current restrictions, in St Bede’s there is a shrine at the door available for people to come and reflect and pray. Another church, this time in Glasgow, by using a window have found a way of displaying the Blessed Sacrament to those outside the church building, where people come along and can pray in the presence of the Risen Lord (still obeying the Social distancing requirements). We also have Masses and other Liturgies available online in St Bede’s and in thousands of Churches around the world.

One I recently visited was in Wales, a young priest, who I met whilst studying at Oscott College, has recognised that people may like to experience Mass in the evening, especially if they have been working during the day are unable to experience Mass during work time. So he is celebrating Mass every evening during the week at 7:00pm and streaming it live via YouTube. As an aside he made a fantastic point the other evening about our current predicament where we can’t receive Jesus physically in the Eucharist, he pointed out that we can always receive Jesus Christ in the Scriptures and advised us to “drink deeply to quench our thirst for Jesus”.2

So what is Jesus prompting you to do today, or this week? Is it to reach out to another person to help them? Is it to pick up the Bible and learn more about Him? Is it to put down your newspaper or phone or tablet and spend quality time with your family? Whatever it is I wish you a Holy and a happy Sunday.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 25th April 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 …………………………., The CTS New Daily Missal – People’s Edition with the new translation of the Mass, (Catholic Truth Society, London, 2012)368.

2 Fr Matt Roche-Saunders, Homily on St George’s Day 23rd April 2020 available fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYh64LXScTA accessed 25th April 2020.