Dear friends on the journey, Here we are on day 31 and 5th Sunday of quarantine. What we’re living right now seems like a movie doesn’t it? For our family, comedy might be the best description and I suspect there’s not too many living a romance. I’ve heard several people compare their experience to a science fiction film and even Groundhog Day. Perhaps for others it might parallel horror, suspense, adventure, crime, drama, fantasy, mystery or satire. No matter the movie genre, this pandemic and our stay-at-home response is something surreal, unbelievable and unprecedented. We’re all wondering if this is for real. Everyone is locked in their homes in comfy clothes, only going out for groceries. Masks and gloves are wardrobe musts. Essentials are the basics for survival. School and graduations canceled. Telecommuting to work. And our liturgy is now on YouTube! It’s certainly an emotional roller coaster with ups and downs, fears and joys, calm and frenzy, tears and laughter, and everything in between. We are living moment to moment, not knowing what will happen next.
Today’s gospel story about Jesus’ post resurrection appearance to the disciples in the locked room is also a roller coaster of emotions from fear and worry to doubt. They are filled with disbelief and uncertainty, likely wondering if the recent events were real and what was going to happen without their teacher. Then Jesus appears to them and they rejoice, three times he offers peace, gives the Holy Spirit to them, and sends them out to be believers and to forgive. Then Jesus challenges their belief. Does it come only from their seeing Jesus in person?
This gospel’s message is for us as well. Now more than ever, we need Jesus’ peace. We need belief and the Holy Spirit to get us through this time. Only Jesus can give us this peace and he offers it every day. It’s our response that will make a difference, especially when we have no certainty of the immediate future. I have found much hope, comfort and peace in this time of quarantine and see the Holy Spirit at work. Here is where social media has shined for me. Seeing stories of courage, charity given, appreciation, gratitude, humanity at its best. I am beyond proud of our parish for acting so quickly to live stream Mass, to be willing to shop for seniors, to make wellness calls, to donate food, to give generously so the parish can stay afloat.
So today I encourage all of us to rely on our faith that Jesus has us. Rest in his peace that with him and through him, we will come out on the other side stronger and better. Lean on the belief that the Holy Spirit is working and look for even her small, simple movements in our lockdown. Celebrate them. Take comfort that the disciples who were locked in that room in fear and disbelief eventually came out stronger and better and with greater conviction.