2nd Sunday of Easter – 19th April
The period of Easter opens up to surprises and to new life. The very experience of spending large parts of our time at home for fear of the COVID 19 virus gives us more time than we would have expected in reflecting on the direction of life. What brings us meaning and who do we pin our hopes on? In a time when political leaders and medical experts seek to advise us on ways of looking after each other, we are also called to ponder what brings meaning to our lives.
Just as when the disciples locked themselves in the upper room out of fear, Jesus came and stood among them offering peace and the gift of forgiveness. He called upon them to not be afraid. In an age where we often rely on seeing is believing, we can stand with Thomas who insisted that he would not believe unless he touched the Lord’s wound and experienced his very presence. Much of the similar commentary can come to us in these post-Easter times. How do we know what is real and what can sustain us? In many cases, it seems as though we have to fall back on our own resources and our own creativity to connect with God and with each other. This is especially true where our usual union with a sacramental life is socially distant from us and can be seen but not touched. This loss of touch is a profound separation when we realise how much of our life is nurtured by our connection with each other. We often rely on that face to face contact which engages all the senses. The difficulty even of connecting online is that we miss the smell, the taste and touch of being in another’s presence. This is why so many meals have been a common form of celebration because it is not just focussed on the food we eat but on the company we share.
Thus, in these times of isolation, we need to discover how to connect with each other which makes good use of zoom or other social media. This is not just about seeing and hearing but trying to make it a more sensual environment which draws in a common activity which we can share. This may take some organising to share similar food at a similar time. To taste, smell and be in touch with a common experience. I know some now have virtual celebrations where while separated they can share time together. Others are sharing music, have exercise classes, prayer time and meditations. These ways of connecting allow the physical walls to be penetrated by others who care about us and who we are called to share our lives with. In many ways, it reminds me of the appearances of Jesus which occurred almost simultaneously around the world. He was able to be present to many people in different ways at the same time. This may be one of the blessings of this time. Our ability to connect and our desire to be present has never been greater. Also, when we have time on our hands, we move the emphasis from just our work to our reason for gathering which enables us to work closely together. This may be a time where two or three virtually gathered together notice that Jesus is present in their midst.
Fr. John Armstrong