Saturday, April 03, 2021

HOPE IN THE AGE OF COVID 19 ~ 34

 

                              ALREADY IN ROME: CHRIST IS RISEN! GLORIFY HIM!

Easter, for Christians is a celebration in and with faith, for others, in many countries, it is merely a long holiday weekend. For the second time in this pandemic, it is understandable that the vast majority of people are exhausted. The physical and mental stress of lockdowns and isolation, isolation especially from family, while particularly hard on the elderly, are compounded by the increase of mental illness, domestic violence, racism, and the seemingly unending, relentless tsunami of covid, ye or nay conspiracy theories, ye or nay vaccine arguments; then there is the proliferation of demonstrations, some violent, against government imposed restrictions on daily life, including the assault on religious practice through restrictive measures and in some countries using the pandemic as an excuse to enact laws which restrict freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

It is as if for more than a year we have been living and wandering in desert darkness.

In his General Audience address, before the Triduum, Pope Francis reminded us: Ever since Jesus took upon himself the wounds of humanity and death itself, God’s love has irrigated these deserts of ours, he has enlightened our darkness. Because the world is in darkness. Let us make a list of all the wars that are being fought in this moment; of all the children who die of hunger; of children who have no education; of entire populations destroyed by wars, by terrorism. Of the many, many people who, just to feel a bit better, need drugs, the drug industry that kills … It is a disaster, it is a desert! There are small “islands” of the people of God, both Christian and of all other faiths, that hold in their heart the desire to be better. But let us tell the truth: in this Calvary of death, it is Jesus who suffers in his disciples. During his ministry, the Son of God disseminated life by the handful, healing, forgiving, reviving… Now, in the hour of his supreme Sacrifice on the cross, he brings to fulfilment the task entrusted to him by the Father: he enters into the abyss of suffering, he enters into these disasters of this world, to redeem and transform. And also to free every one of us from the power of darkness, of pride, of resistance to being loved by God. And this, only God’s love can do this. By his wounds we have been healed (see 1 Pt 2: 24), the apostle Peter says, by his death we have been reborn, all of us. And thanks to him, abandoned on the cross, no-one will ever again be alone in the darkness of death. Never, he is always beside us: we need only open our heart and let ourselves be looked upon by him. [1]

If during this pandemic we allow ourselves to pay more attention to the cacophony of news and social media, go down and linger in rabbit-holes of conspiracies, or bend towards ourselves ceaselessly lamenting all that is happening in the world, thus being emotionally so stressed that our faith, our prayer lives, like water run through our fingers, shattering like glass on the ground. This because we deliberately or inadvertently listen to that black hyena, satan, who whispers the lie to us that we must take care of ourselves, cherry pick ‘truth’, trust no one, not even God for clearly, look around, He has abandoned us.

Lie, lie, lie!

The first step to easing the emotional, physical, spiritual stress of these days is to forget self, stand up, raise our eyes, look to Jesus on the Cross, our Lover and Redeemer, keeping vigil until His death and then to go, lay our heads against the stone rolled over the entrance of His tomb and wait!

Even if in forgetting self we can’t go physically to meet and comfort someone else we can phone, text, skype, write a letter. Most importantly since our brothers and sisters are suffering all over the world: in hospitals, old age homes, prisons, labour camps, migrant camps, in places of war and hunger, homeless in back alleys or shelters, we can follow the urging of St. Theodore the Studite: We should pray and lament for the world……should not be concerned just with ourselves, but also lament and pray for the whole world. [2]

We, as people of faith, should ask the Holy Trinity, these days of such suffering in the human family, to accept our acts of faith and fidelity to Christ and the Holy Gospel, from our loving hearts, as proxy for the whole human family, as theirs.

Roman Catholics and Orthodox embrace with joy the truth Christ remains with us: loving, glorified, in the Holy Eucharist and each time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we are loved, vivified, glorified as salt of the earth and light in this darkness. Love, His love pouring out from our hearts is more powerful and real than any darkness, hate, discouragement, if we truly love everyone as He loves us.

Light: the whole universe breathes light because it is the indivisible syllable of Light that from the beginning has spoken the universe itself into life. Light: more than ordinary air, a synonym for blood, the secret face of love…..Somewhere, sometime, Easter happened in you, even if it was only the moment of your conception. Somewhere, the light shone in you, and your heart know that this light is your life. Your heart know that if you keep looking, you will see the face of Light, and hear His voice speak your name. Then you will live because you have heard the voice of love. Then as you name the one who is the glory of love made visible, you will see light everywhere. It will be Easter. Always……….Light everywhere. “I will be with you all days, even until the end of the world” (Matt.28:20)………..Light everywhere. Light: Jesus the Christ risen from the dead. [3]

[1] https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2021/documents/papa-francesco_20210331_udienza-generale.html

italics are mine

[2] PENTOS, The Doctrine of Compunction in the Christian East; Irenee Hasher, SJ; pp.42,43; Cistercian Publications, 1982   italics are mine

[3] CIRCLING THE SUN; Meditations on Christ in Liturgy and Time; Robert D. Pelton; pp. 85 & 89; The Pastoral Press, 1986 [out of print] italics are mine

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph

 

 

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