My Dear Believers,
Mercy is at our door. As church doors are temporarily latched out of concern for people’s health, the gospel opens up our call to remain fully present to our loved ones.
We are in uncharted waters. Fears bundle in our hearts. Concern for people living alone surface in our thoughts. People with heart conditions or people who are going through chemotherapy remain vulnerable to illness. People who suffer depression are at the center of our thoughts because fear can be so overwhelming. People are frightened about job loss, about providing for their families. People who normally struggle to make ends meet are now blanketed with constant worry about tomorrow.
This is a Lent like no other. Could this be the Lent we have even given up Jesus? On the surface it certainly seems so. However, we know who we are. We are people who follow the Master to the cross and to the empty tomb. We are the people who hold tight to love. We are believers who know within our hearts that mercy and forgiveness become real in difficult times. We remain one in Christ and community is still our home.
In this Lent, the world is facing the Cross of Christ. We have choices to make today. Even though we are fasting even from the Eucharist, we still need to sort through our experiences and feed on Jesus’ healing love. We experience the Cross of Christ not as a pietistic sentiment, but as a deep and profound reality of who we are as baptized Christians. We are the Body of Christ broken to be shared so others may know love and forgiveness.
So let’s use this experience of isolation as retreat, with profound reflection, and settle into Jesus Christ. I invite you to continue to find quiet time in this retreat. Perhaps in such time of prayer, offer your wringing hands to God. Offer your frustrations about people who are physically and emotionally vulnerable about this disease. Offer to God your fear about whether or not you will be paid for your jobs. Pray my friends, please.
Now is the time to huddle with your family and especially your children. Perhaps this is the time of deeper conversation. Please, talk with your kids. Tell them in an emotional embrace that you love them. Reassure those who live under your roof that hope is at the door. For heaven’s sake, during this unique moment, reassess your relationship with your children.
In this time of profound isolation, reach out to friends on the phone or Skype or any other way in which you can hear the voices of people who love you. Listen as well to the voice of Jesus in the Scriptures, in your usual prayers or Novenas or within nature. But for your sake, listen. God is planting deep longing within us. This is the time where grace is being given in what seems like a dormant, isolating uncertainty. Listen, my friends to the sound of love that is underneath our fear.
Today’s gospel challenges us to forgive. Perhaps the work of the scriptures is unfolding within us in ways we least expect. Make sure you are taking time to reflect on the gospel for the Mass each day. Click here for a link to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website to find the sacred readings for each day.
I know this is a time of sleepless nights for many people. Parents face job loss. Health care workers serve the reality of human disease. Panic about food. People living with depression face even greater isolation. Real life is our prayer.
I pray we may continue to be one in Christ, even in the confines of our homes, even when fear knocks so strongly at the door. Seek Christ. Only love unlocks fear.
From the Lorica of Saint Patrick
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.
Blessings on this Saint Patrick’s Day,