By Fr. Rich, O.P.
So, we’ve come to Easter 2020. It is safe to say that it will be celebrated as no other has ever been. The pandemic has created a situation that requires us to build communities that are beyond the reach of our arms, but not the reach of our hearts or minds. The sentiment found in our responsorial psalm challenges us to step beyond our distances and link our spirits and voices: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”
Any opportunity we have to offer praise and glory to God is a good day. Any opportunity we have to come together in any venue and witness to the power of God’s love is a good day. Any opportunity we have to experience the strength, support, and love of our community is a good day. And so we have Easter 2020!
Five years ago, six words grabbed me and have refused to let go when I consider the nature of Easter. Any time that I consider a column for this solemnity, these words come to me unbidden, and they won’t let go! “Bravely, fiercely, and compassionately; relentless, forgiving, unconditional” are the words. Beginning with the experience of Palm Sunday, Jesus embodies what God’s love and commitment to us looks like. Knowing full well that his entry as King into Jerusalem would lead to the Cross, Jesus nonetheless rides into the city.
In the upper room, he washes the feet of his betrayer, offering a forgiveness that is lost to Judas. Knowing the grief and fear that his disciples would experience, he offers one final gift — himself in the bread and wine. In doing so he fulfills his promise to be with them until the end of the age.
In the Garden he let go of his own fear, turning it over to his Father in his prayer. Showing the depths of his love, he fulfilled the plan begun at the Fall. “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do! You will be with me in Paradise.” Even from the altar of the Cross, Jesus with profound compassion sets the bar for us.
If we enter into the moment of the Resurrection, we can experience the fierce love of the Father for his Son as Father banishes death, allowing his Son to stand in his full glory, attended by choirs of angels.
Today, more than ever, we are called to take these six words to heart. I think they bear repeating. Bravely choosing to make choices that acknowledge the unique world we find ourselves in. Defending fiercely the right we all have to live safely, against the assault of those who would deny or ignore our new reality. We are challenged to respond compassionately to those who are in the front lines of the Pandemic: the medical personnel, first responders, the patients. Not just these people, but all those who are working to keep the world moving. Not just these people, but those who keep our faith communities responsive to its members. Relentless, forgiving, unconditional.
The crisis is far from resolved. It is difficult to sift through the flood of information. It is difficult to separate the fiction from the facts and decide which facts help us the most to make decisions for ourselves and our families.
The Resurrection that we celebrate today is what makes us “Alleluia people!” That single phrase reflects the faith that we have in Christ’s unconditional love, that love that flows through the Holy Spirit from the Father. Remember that in the days ahead.
Remember, “This (and every day) is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”
Blessings to each of you; have a blest Easter!