2nd Sunday of Easter
We are two years into the pandemic and it seems that things are almost back to normal (whatever normal is now). One proof of that is the crowds that we’ve been getting here at masses the past couple of months. I was even impressed with the number of people who attended our Holy Week and Easter liturgies!
Yet, there are some folks who are still afraid to come to church because they are afraid of the catching the virus. They continue to be locked down because of the spread of COVID-19.
These faithful people are unable to attend mass or see their friends. They've been isolated, cut off from lifegiving human presence. I met a lady this week who stopped by the rectory for business. She apologized to me for not meeting me in person sooner but she has been afraid of coming to church because of COVID. You can just see the sadness in her eyes as she was explaining this to me.
The disciples in our gospel story today are also locked down. Shaken by the death of Jesus, they must have felt very much alone. There must have been fear as well of the unknown fate which awaits them as friends of a crucified criminal.
Into this human experience of isolation, Jesus comes to stand in their midst. “Peace be with you!”
This story captures what the resurrection meant for the first Christians. Death itself could not prevent Christ from breaking through their isolation and grief. He offers them peace.
The Risen Christ is alive and well today!
Like those first followers locked in that room there's much which can isolate us: grief, anxiety, fear hurts inflicted by others.
During the darkest days of the pandemic when we were all locked down it may have seemed that life was dormant in our parish:
*Lay ministers and lectors weren’t able to exercise their ministries because people were not able to go to mass while they were celebrated in private.
*Religious education for our youth was conducted virtually following the lead of our schools.
*Parish gatherings that build community were forbidden.
*Our elderly were denied the privilege of going to the mass.
As most of you know I arrived here as your pastor in the middle of the pandemic. It was so difficult at first for me to meet people and do the work of a pastor when not everyone is attending mass and everyone was wearing a mask. It made learning and remembering names very difficult to say the least.
Yet, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the support you gave your parish even though you were all dispensed from the obligation of attending mass.
During those darkest and bleakest days you all continued to support St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes by either dropping your contribution off at the rectory, mailing it in or if you were able to come to mass drop it off in the collection basket.
I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to all of you for your kindness, gentleness, flexibility, patience and support during the last two challenging years. With your support we were still able to meet our financial obligations and minister to the people of our communities despite the challenges that COVID gave us.
Because of you we were still able to help families and individuals in need. We were able to assist a family in our parish that was struggling financially because of a mountain of medical bills. Because of your support we were able to give them a modest gift to help them out and also Bishop LaValley was able to give them a matching gift through his Good Samaritan Fund.
Now thanks to the precautions we have all taken the past two years like masking, social distancing and getting the vaccine life is slowly getting back to normal. Now is the time to start rebuilding our parish life here.
During the next several weeks we as a parish our going to reflect on our gifts of time, talent and treasure in order to build up our ministries of bringing the Good News of our Risen Lord to our youth, our families, the elderly and anyone in our community who may feel spiritually locked in their own upper rooms.
Next week we will begin an increased offering campaign. Our theme is, “God’s Love Unites Us!” This is our opportunity to make this parish bustling with Christian outreach again by using our gifts of time, talent and treasure.
This week in the mail you will receive a special brochure introducing our “God’s Love Unites Us!” program. Please don’t throw it away. Please take a few minutes to read it and reflect on your commitment and support of our parish by supporting our ministries by YOUR time, talent and treasure.
Next weekend is Commitment Weekend and Mickey Fitzgerald and Kathy Riggins will be speaking at our masses telling us how much St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes have meant to them and how we still need St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes today and why we need to support them.
We need to know that Christ’s spirit is alive and at work here at St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes. We may doubt it at times like Thomas, but then the Lord invites us to touch his own woundedness experienced in our own lives and in the lives of others and find there the power to believe that God’s love always unites us!