My Dear Friends,
I hope that despite the ongoing ‘lockdown’ you all had something of a joyful Easter. In the presbytery we managed to make something of it. But of course we are a family. For those of us who are single – well things must be difficult even though we have television, radio and the internet. And still the lockdown continues – for another three weeks I have heard. What is important is that we do not despair and remember that sooner or later it will come to an end.
It is important for us to remember that Easter – like Christmas – is more than one day, it goes on for six weeks to Pentecost. We remember that the risen Christ lived in his resurrection body and was seen by his disciples until finally being ascended into heaven. Also, although we can no longer see Him, nevertheless He is always with us and ever acting though the Holy Spirit.
In today’s gospel reading (John 20:19-31) we hear of the resurrected Jesus meeting his disciples. He says something that I consider to be very important for us in these strange times… ‘As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.’
I need hardly tell you that the Catholic Church is a highly sacramental church. Actions speak louder than words, material objects become spiritual entities, bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus himself. It can be said that Jesus is, in a manner of speaking, the sacramental presence of God the Father – the Father and I are one (John 10:30). Thus the Father sends Christ, His Son, to us. The next phrase ‘so I am sending you’, is actually quite amazing. Our Lord is in effect commissioning us to bring Him to the world. This is, yes, the mission of the Church, but the church now understood as something beyond the institutional (or even architectural) form we are more familiar with. The temporary closure of our Church buildings thus puts the onus on to the people of God to fulfill the ‘sacramental’ task Our Lord has given us.
My friends, these times are difficult and more than a little strange. Yet, within these times there is the God given opportunity to grow in faith and service as never before.