If you remember last week’s Scripture readings about love (and sacrifice), we are called to emulate Jesus’ self-emptying, sacrificial love in our own lives by letting go of any of the sinful, selfish and destructive things, thoughts and feelings to which we may cling. “Let go and let God!”
Right now (and for weeks) we have been experiencing the sacrifice of many ‘things’ for our safety and the safety of others. (Love in action!) We have the opportunity now to really examine (both individually and collectively) all of the unnecessary things of our society with which we have indulged ourselves; the cruelty and injustice we have accepted without enough scrutiny and reconciliation; and the preservation of what actually is good and worth keeping—those actions that do serve God’s plan for all of His children. You know, we might actually strive to make all things better, safer, healthier and happier for all of us, no exceptions!
Having tasted a somewhat simpler life in some (or many) ways, perhaps we will shift from some and any of those destructive values and patterns in our lives. Now that we have seen the importance of community, of social contracts (like wearing masks to keep each other safe, or stopping at red lights) and the sharing of resources, maybe we will invest more in the well-being of all people and not just the individual self. Maybe we can even consider the urgency to act on the problems of poverty (here at home and away), the suffering of Creation by the greedy and thoughtless, and the health and education of all our brothers and sisters. This pandemic has highlighted the many social problems we have in our society—which, personally, I find so painful to consider how unthinking, selfish and unkind we can be about the problems of others sometimes.
Pain, though, is an unwelcome teacher and an important element of reality in this world. It is not only often helpful, but is absolutely necessary to human health and well-being. How do you know to keep your hands away from an open flame, or to flush a grain of sand from your eye? Pain. Any doctor will tell you that a person whose nerves can't send pain signals will have serious problems in living a normal life. We know that God allows suffering, but he is not the one who causes it and sends it into our lives. We experience pain because we live in physical bodies in a physical world—and we suffer emotional pain because we are (hopefully) sensitive to misfortune, loss, and injustice. Sometimes the most horrible wounds we experience are those that come to us and are even traceable to our own wrong choices! But He will be with us always through it all and to the end.
This faith we have is a relationship with God that provides the daily presence, strength, and encouragement of the Living Christ for whatever comes our way. It doesn’t exempt us from it, but it does sustain us. And this love in the midst of trial is what we are called to be in the world as Disciples. We do not yet have complete and detailed plans for the future of Covid 19 in our Communities—but like the Disciples in Scripture today we know Jesus is with us while we figure it all out—and we have an Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
As Disciples we depend on the Word, the Paschal Mystery and each other to be the presence of Christ. St. Peter of Damascus wrote that we will ascend with Christ to heaven through these real presences of Jesus. We move from “fear to religious devotion—from which springs spiritual knowledge; from this knowledge comes judgment—that is, discrimination (discernment); from discernment comes the strength that will lead us to understanding; and from this comes wisdom.” We need to ascend to this heavenly wisdom!
Thanks to the ministry of the Apostles, all believers will ascend with Christ into heavenly wisdom. When Christ Ascended they had to depend on their faith, believe in their mission, and carry the Gospel to all. (The Holy Spirit makes all this possible!) We are charged with this same mission, now, today. We are lost if we do not take this mission seriously—especially since we now have the time to reconcile our faith with our actions and our decisions--and we have the Holy Spirit to help us, always.
Keep singing in your hearts and minds—or out loud while quaranteaming with your lovely ones!
Just a note: Just a reminder that while in church (masks on), there is no Assembly singing in responses or of hymns and Mass Ordinaries. This is encouraged by our Archdiocese, our Archbishop and the science behind aerosolized particles of the virus. (Instead of full, conscious and active outward participation—it is now a prayerful, interior, internally active participation while in church.) When attending mass, please only sing in your hearts. I know that one day we will sing aloud, raising our voices together again; but in the meantime we make this sacrifice of love to protect each other and the vulnerable. For now, our Journeysong hymnals are stored away—and we all look forward to the future when they will be accessible to all again.