14 April, Tuesday – We’ve been caught off-guard

Acts 2:36-41
Jn 20:11-18

…change your hearts and lives

So many words to describe this moment in time. This global moment. Unknown. Scary. Peculiar.  Confusing. Fearful. Strange. Daunting. Difficult. Trusting.

And those words often describe us when we are faced with the decision of knowing who Jesus is, or KNOWING JESUS. 

I have always known the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have always wanted to be a ‘good’ person, a ‘good’ Catholic, a ‘good’ friend to all, a ‘good’ example of a Christian. Most of my friends were Christians, a few even Catholic. I hung around law-abiding, honest compassionate people. I was good. But good isn’t good enough… Good is merely knowing WHO Jesus is. God gives us a better choice — the invitation to know Jesus as Lord, King, Saviour, through a personal relationship. And we all know a relationship takes time. A relationship is a consistent investment of our heart and time. When I think of my very best friends, and my husband, I realize we became friends because we  had similar interests. We enjoyed doing things together, going to places together, laughing at the same things. The more time we spent together doing things, the more I liked them. The more I liked them, the more time I wanted to spend with them, and not necessarily doing something we like, I just LIKE being with them. And then one day, I realized that I loved them. Like I didn’t ever want to NOT have them in my life.

I can look back to my early 20s, when life was good and fun, and Jesus was there. I went to Mass every Sunday, I even taught High School CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, i.e. Sunday school). I prayed, especially when there were hard decisions to make, or when I knew I had made a poor choice. But I wasn’t fully committed because I had not yet take the time to INVEST in a one on one relationship with Jesus. In my mid-20s, I made that choice. It was a baby step, but I made that decision to invest my time daily to a living relationship with Christ. I made the decision to change my heart and life with that decision. It was what I had been searching for, what my whole being was craving. 

I, like many Christians, see this time of this global pandemic as a time to get to know ourselves better, those in our family, and Christ. God has literally given us all a time out. And since we are all searching – even those who do not know they are searching, are indeed, searching – we have the unplugged time to notice God. To start, or build upon, a relationship with our Creator. This is a time to love, albeit from a distance, like not other. But the reality is GOD isn’t social distancing from us, never has. We do not have to self-quarantine from Him. 

Many people adhering to the ‘self-quarantine’ suggestion/request/command/demand, yet many not. Many kind neighbors, looking out for each other. Many sharing what they have. Cooking for neighbors. Shopping for neighbors. Then we see videos of teenagers coughing on produce. Videos of people buying every paper product on the shelf. Videos and articles of people hoarding sanitizers to sell at exorbitant prices. 

This is a time when the goodness in many shine, and a time when the evil in some rises. As Dickens said, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Unknown, unplanned and unbelievable as this time is, it is how it has always been.

Watching our Pope today, I was in awe of the wisdom of his words. These words of our Pope are compassionately imploring us to ‘…change your hearts and lives’. The constant invitation of Christ.

“…we’ve been caught off guard on the same boat…
All of us called to row together, each in need of comforting each other…
We cannot go on thinking of ourselves…
We carried on thinking we would stay healthy in a world that is sick…
Should death overwhelm us, Open us to hope oh Lord.
With God life never dies…”

As Christians, we know that God is in this. That God makes all things new. That nothing happens without the divine providence of His ‘YES’. That not one detail of any second is without His inexhaustible love. We know that good will come from this pandemic that is reaching all the corners of the world. How will we respond? Will we change our hearts and life? And what will that look like?

As I write this, it is still Lent; almost Palm Sunday, and this is a Lent like no other. Holy Week is approaching, and it seems that we most likely will not be spending Easter Sunday in our pews together. But that will not stop Easter from being celebrated. Maybe this Holy Week, this Easter season, God is calling us to open our eyes, open our hearts and our lives to see what we have missed. Giving us a chance, a global chance, to witness what we have merely glanced at, to embark on the path with Him that we have walked away from. 

As you read this, it is Easter Tuesday. And I am already imagining my first Mass back celebrating at my home parish. Praying it will be soon. Sharing the breaking of the bread. Breathing in the incense, the joy that I will experience upon entering my church and celebrating Mass with my brothers and sisters. I pray my presence at mass will never be mundane, no matter the homily, the off-pitch and out of rhythm choir, the noisy babies and attire of those around me, again. I pray it will never be a task to check off. I pray it will never be a moment I take for granted. I pray it will be soon. 

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer:  Father God, we ask for love to fall all over us, especially today, as we do as you have asked us, ‘do this in remembrance of me’. We beg you to open our hearts like never before so that we can fill them with You and true love of neighbor. We ask you to help us experience You in a way that we can’t help but share our faith with others, and that we never hold back in praising you wherever we are. 

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Father God, for this Easter Season. We praise your Name for all the good that has been poured over us, and all the love that we have poured out for those around us. Thank You for our Catholic faith and all those who spread the Good News so that we would know and believe.

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