Today was warm and sunny and lots of people of all ages, parents with their children, were out walking and I noted walking more upright, smiling more, with a certain bounce in their step.
Walking icons of courage, hope, in the Light of Christ Risen.
During his homily at the Easter Vigil, Pope Francis assured us that: Tonight we acquire a fundamental right that can never be taken away from us: the right to hope. It is a new and living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism; it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement, uttered with an empty smile. No! It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own. Over these weeks, we have kept repeating, “All will be well”, clinging to the beauty of our humanity and allowing words of encouragement to rise up from our hearts. But as the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate. Jesus’ hope is different. He plants in our hearts the conviction that God is able to make everything work unto good, because even from the grave he brings life. [1a]
People are pretty vocal about ‘my rights’, such that for decades on the streets, in the media, in the courts, it seems innumerable are the new ‘rights’ conceived of as being something heretofore denied such and such a group, and that must be enshrined into law. Things seem quieter on that front during this pandemic, perhaps because it is occupying most of everyone’s attention, moving us all to realize we truly need one another and cannot get through this on one’s own.
What is both fascinating and beautiful is, as the impact of this pandemic drags on, numerous are the examples of people moving away from extreme individualism and placing others first.
Certainly, the nurses and doctors, the other first responders, grocery store clerks, pharmacists, truck and train drivers, bus drivers, letter carriers, those who haul the garbage away, keep the streets clean, the lights on, the phone, cable, internet services working, all deserve our outmost gratitude for their courage and care for us.
Also striking, the emerging selfless generosity of those who do the shopping for seniors, donate to food banks, put signs of gratitude and camaraderie in their windows, who unfailingly when shopping, on the transit systems, out walking, practice charitable distancing.
All of this shows increased love of others, and courage.
Again, from Pope Francis’ homily: Courage. This is a word often spoken by Jesus in the Gospels. Only once do others say it, to encourage a person in need: “Courage; rise, [Jesus] is calling you!” (Mk 10:49). It is he, the Risen One, who raises us up from our neediness. If, on your journey, you feel weak and frail, or fall, do not be afraid, God holds out a helping hand and says to you: “Courage!”. You might say, as did Don Abbondio (in Manzoni’s novel), “Courage is not something you can give yourself” (I Promessi Sposi, XXV). True, you cannot give it to yourself, but you can receive it as a gift. All you have to do is open your heart in prayer and roll away, however slightly, that stone placed at the entrance to your heart so that Jesus’ light can enter. You only need to ask him: “Jesus, come to me amid my fears and tell me too: Courage!” With you, Lord, we will be tested but not shaken. And, whatever sadness may dwell in us, we will be strengthened in hope, since with you the cross leads to the resurrection, because you are with us in the darkness of our nights; you are certainty amid our uncertainties, the word that speaks in our silence, and nothing can ever rob us of the love you have for us. [1b] 
[1a: underling added & b] http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2020/documents/papa-francesco_20200411_omelia-vegliapasquale.html
 As I was finishing this I heard from outside the telltale wack, wack of leather against leather and, while the ‘boys of summer’ are on hiatus due to the plague, looking out the window, there on the bike path, a father and son playing a game of catch. That too is a sign of hope.
© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph