He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was. Jn 13:1
“A different Holy Week, Easter is not the same this year”…..No doubt you have heard such comments and possibly even agreed with the sadness accompanying them. Maybe you too have bemoaned the changes that have come upon us – no Easter celebrations, closed churches, and no Eucharist as we are accustomed to receiving it. Yet what gift and opportunity lie hidden here in these days. If ever we were being asked to accompany the crucified Christ, this Triduum is it. If ever we were to beg for the Spirit of the Lord to anoint us and help us bring good news to the poor, it is now. If ever we were being asked to “wash feet” and give up our lives for others, it is NOW.
This Easter, we can’t rely on the wonderful traditions of our faith, the usual liturgies of this week, and being led through the passion of Jesus. Instead, the onus is on each of us individually to do exactly what Jesus himself teaches us, “Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret….Mt6:6”. We are even being told that by our governments! “Go home, stay home, be still – this is the greatest sacrifice you can make for yourself and for others to save lives.” The hard part is that when we pray with Jesus to be one, as He is in God and God is in Him (Jn17:21), we often imagine positive, peaceful, hope-filled times of oneness in God and with each other. The current coronavirus, Covid-19, is showing us a whole new way of being one through great suffering. Never before has our whole world suffered as one, and so never before has our world found itself with the opportunity to truly turn away from selfish behaviours and extend unconditional love in new ways. This Easter we are being asked to witness to our faith and our love for each other by staying home, and trusting that we will be fed. Is it a little bit like the five thousand being asked to “sit down in groups of about fifty” (Lk9:17), to sit down in their “family” groups, with no one being turned away? Remember, they all ate and were filled.
So this evening, we will once again remember Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper and the message he gave – if you want to truly belong to me, you must follow me, in self-giving service. We must wash the feet of others and be ready to say with Jesus, “This is my body given up for you.” Yes it is wonderful to go out and help the poor, after all anyone in need is our neighbour. Yet in our being kept home, this “corona-time” is inviting us to trust our prayer for others and tend the ones closest to us, sometimes the ones hardest to be with, the ones we can take for granted. Then following the great commandment, we also are being asked to tend ourselves and our relationship with God. Perhaps this is our greatest challenge and sacrifice this Easter, to give ourselves wholly over to a deep inner prayer, one with Jesus in the Father, through the Holy Spirit, uniting our whole world.
Are we truly his in this world?
Let’s really open our hearts to his perfect love this Easter.