"Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (Jn 12:27)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This verse from the Gospel used to come into my mind before my final exams. In front of the anguish or anxiety, we always want to escape from suffering. However, I had spent the whole semester preparing myself for that moment. The same happens in our lives. We are almost a month already in “lockdown” and we do not know how much longer it will last. Certainly we would like to go back to living a “normal life”, stop the fear, anxiety, the deaths, the social distancing etc…however, God has prepared us to live this time with him. Many people have shared with me how this time has led them to reflect many things in their lives, to put things into perspective. Others have learned to pray the Rosary, or got back in the practice of praying it daily. Our morning mass attendance on-line has increased tremendously. I believe that the timing of the whole outbreak was a good preparation for us to live this Easter with Christ. But what good is it to celebrate Easter alone or away from the rest of our families? Maybe we can ask ourselves, what is the meaning of Easter?
CHRIST IS RISEN!!! HE IS TRULY RISEN!!! This is the ancient greeting of the Church on the Passover night and during the Easter time. This is the central belief of our faith, our lives, of the whole universe. Christ has come to GIVE US A NEW LIFE!!! All of the triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, indeed all of his life, points not to the cross, but it POINTS TO HIS RESSURECTION FROM THE DEAD!!! CHRIST IS ALIVE, and He wants to give us his eternal life today. Easter is the passage from death into life. The farmers first celebrated Easter as the passage from winter into spring. Later God used this moment to teach the people of Israel to celebrate the Passover from the slavery of Egypt into the Freedom of the Promised Land. They did not remember as an intellectual exercise, like we remember someone’s anniversary. They LIVED AGAIN that same night, as if that very night God was passing to take them out of the slavery to Pharaoh, which can be seen as the slavery of vices/sin that we struggle with. There Christ makes the utmost revelation. His Passover opens up for us the passage from DEATH TO SIN INTO ETERNAL LIFE. The same way in which He died and rose to a new life, He GIVES US TODAY THE POSSIBILITY OF RISING TO A NEW LIFE WITH CHRIST. This Passover is individual, because CHRIST COMES TO YOU!!!! Our celebration should not be merely ritualistic, but realistic. Christ comes personally to give you a share in his resurrection. He goes ahead of us into everything that is “killing us at this time,” such as serving one another, doing those tasks that you dislike, forgiving, “putting up” with other people, or other people’s idiosyncrasy/eccentricity. THE GOOD NEWS is that THOSE THINGS DON’T HAVE TO “KILL” US ANYMORE!!! Finally, we were freed from all that oppressed us, and from our sins. We can truly live in a different way because of Christ. Should we say “save us God from this hour”? Let us use this time that God has given us to reflect and realize that HE IS THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES. It’s for this reason that we live!
As much as we would like to spend this special day with our families, God has chosen to spend this Easter with us. As much as we miss our families, I invite you to celebrate this time with him. Those who live with others (spouses, children…), I invite you to do, as much as possible, something special. First, on Holy Saturday, we should clean the house, prepare the best China, silverware, for the Easter Meal on Sunday. On Easter Sunday, I invite everyone to dress in your best attire, as if you were in Church, to celebrate Mass (virtually), and to have a great meal!!! Otherwise, Easter Sunday will be like any other day we are living… It’s important to do that especially for the children. To help them understand why Easter is a different day from all other days. Those who would like, take a picture of your family during Mass, and we will post it online to show our community gathered for this special celebration. Remember, Christ is coming to us, let’s be prepared to welcome him!
On behalf of your priests, the parish and school staff, and of everyone else, WE WISH A HOLY EASTER TO EVERYONE!
Father Steven Clemence