Below you will find reflections and prayers for every day of this Third Week of Easter. We take a look at the Gospel for Sunday and draw out from it some thoughts and suggestions for reflection and prayer for each day. If you are picking this up after Sunday you may like to read Sunday’s reflection first.

Saint-Adresse, France – August 15, 2019: Stained Glass in the Chapel of Notre-Dame-des-flots (1857) in Sainte Adresse, Le Havre, France, depicting The Supper at Emmaus

Can you remember what it was like to go on holiday or just nip round the corner to catch up with friends? In the days before lockdown, we could travel the world, see new places, get on a train or plane to see our friends or families. Many of us have memories of particular journeys. Some have been sad, perhaps to go to a funeral or to the bedside of a sick loved one, others have been exciting and enjoyable; a journey that gave us unexpected joy.

You might like to just take a moment to recall your own memories of journeys you have made — and what you miss now.

In the Gospel for this Sunday, we have the story of two friends making a journey of about 7 miles. They are travelling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. This journey was a sad one; their greatest friend had died in terrible circumstances and, as we so often do, they were trying to get their heads around what had happened. A stranger joins them as they are walking along. He asks them what they’re talking about and they blurt it all out. What they didn’t realise was that this was indeed the friend that they were missing so much. He begins to unravel the story for them but still they don’t recognise him. It isn’t until he plans to leave them and they request him to stay on for a meal with them that they recognise who he is. It is as he takes bread and blesses it that their eyes are opened and that sad journey is turned into one of excitement and joy. You can read this passage for yourself in St Luke’s Gospel (chapter 24 verses 13-35).

Like many Gospel stories, we can read this account not only as a great story but on another much deeper level. Each one of us is on an inward journey, a journey of faith. It’s a journey of discovery, just as it was for these disciples. Sometimes that journey seems difficult or dark, at other times, joyful. Throughout this journey Christ comes and walks beside us. He is there helping to unpack our story and to help us to recognise where he is in our lives.

Take a moment to reflect on your own faith journey: times when Christ has been close and times when faith has seemed really tough.

Pray: thank God for walking with you in the past and asking that you will always walk with him whatever the future may hold. (Take your time over this.)

Pray: for all those who feel lost and alone at this time.

You might like to say this prayer every day this week.

Prayer for the week

Walk with me, oh my Lord,
Through the darkest night and brightest day.
Stay by my side, O Lord,
Hold my hand and guide me on my way.

“They (the disciples) were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side.”

Sometimes, seeing where Christ is in our day-to-day situation can be hard. Many people are asking how it is possible to see him in this pandemic. The Gospel story opens with Jesus coming alongside these two disciples in all their confusion and anxiety. The first thing he does is to walk by their side He’s not way out there in front, dragging them along, nor is he bringing up the rear as a sort of afterthought. He is by their side. Right next to them in the present moment.

Jesus is right next to us. Whether we are alone and isolated, stuck indoors, or trying to cope with difficult circumstances, Jesus walks next to us.

Pray: If you are reading this in the morning, pray that you will know Christ beside you today. If you are reading this towards the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on how Christ has been at your side today and thank him. (Take your time over this.)

Pray: For doctors, nurses and care workers who stand beside those suffering from Covid 19.

You may like to say the prayer for the week (see Sunday).

“What matters are you discussing as you walk along?”

Jesus knows perfectly well what these disciples are thinking and discussing as they wander along and yet he asks them to tell him about what is going on in their heads and hearts. God knows us inside out and yet says to us, as to these disciples, “What’s going on? Tell me”. And the disciples respond, not in lovely pious words, but by blurting it all out, pouring out the story and their own hopes and despair. Notice that Jesus doesn’t interrupt. He just listens. Is your relationship with the Lord open enough to let you “tell it how it is”?

Pray: in your own words about what is really going on for you, knowing that God will listen. (Take your time over this).

Pray: for all those who have a listening role in the current pandemic and for all those who are finding the situation a strain on their mental health.

You may like to say the prayer for the week (see Sunday).

“Then, starting with Moses and going through all of the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the Scriptures that were about himself.”

Having listened to the disciples’ story, Jesus now takes the initiative and starts to show them how everything fits together. He explains how all that has happened in the past, all that the prophets longed for, points to himself. Every Sunday we hear “This is the Word of the Lord” after our readings before the Gospel. The Scriptures are not just a collection of ancient manuscripts; the Holy Spirit opens their meaning to us just as Jesus opened their meaning for these two on their journey.

Pray: Do you have a favourite piece of Scripture? Reflect on why it is special and ask God to open to you more fully the riches of his Word. (Take your time over this.)

Pray: for all those sharing the good news of God’s love during this pandemic.

You may like to say the prayer for the week (see Sunday).

“When they drew near the village to which they were going he made to go on but they pressed him to stay with them.”

When the disciples reach their destination this stranger, who has journeyed with them, makes it clear that he is going on without them. They don’t want him to go so they invite him to stay with them. How much do you want to stay with Jesus and how often do you invite Jesus to stay with you?

Pray: in your own words about how much it means to you to have Jesus stay with you, and/or invite him afresh into your life. (Take your time over this.)

Pray: for those who are lonely and who have no one to stay with them at this time.

You may like to say the prayer for the week (see Sunday).

“He (Jesus) took the bread and said the blessing, then he broke it and handed it to them and their eyes were opened.”

The disciples finally recognise Jesus in a very familiar action. It is when he takes bread, blesses it and breaks it that their eyes are opened. It is not in the fantastical that they know him but through the ordinary thing they touch each day: bread. Suddenly, the ordinary becomes extra-ordinary. It becomes a place of encounter. This happens at every Mass, the ordinary (Bread) becoming the encounter with the real living Christ.

Pray: Imagine you are one of these two disciples sitting at table and watching this stranger undertaking this familiar action. What happens when you recognise him? What do you say or do? (Take your time over this.)

Pray: for those doing the unseen, “ordinary” jobs that keep our supply chains running.

You may like to say the prayer for the week (see Sunday).

“Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road.”

Having met the risen Lord everything changes. These two people, who set out on their journey despondent and confused, find everything has fallen into place. Everything’s changed by this encounter that they were not expecting. Looking back, they see how, even on the road as the Jesus they didn’t recognise explained things to them, they just knew something special was happening.

Pray: That the Lord will get everything in your life into the right place, that he will give you his perspective on your life. (Take your time over this.)

Pray: For those leading our country at this time that they may be guided by the Spirit.

You may like to say the prayer for the week (see Sunday).

3rd Sunday of Easter
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