Approaching the 5th Sunday of Lent March 29, 2020

     APPROACHING THE 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT                             

Shared joy is a double joy!

Shared sorrow is half sorrow!

                                    (Swedish Proverb)

Friends of Holy Trinity, our Lenten journey seems a little longer ̶̶ more barren, lonely, and distant from God and His Church in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic.  But I beg you to take heart.   While we must be cautious and prudent, we must also follow Jesus’ encouragement:  Be not afraid! 

Last Sunday, we heard about Jesus at the well, and how He thirsts for us.  Our God loves us so much He wants us to be intimately united to Himself.  On this 5thSunday of Lent, the Jesus who thirsts for us also weeps for us.  He wept for His friend Lazarus.  He weeps for each of us, His friends who must endure hardship, suffering, sickness, and death.  Like any loved one, Jesus suffers when we suffer.  In fact, Jesus is present to us in every beat of our hearts’ aches, and in every tear we shed.  In our darkest times, let in the light of Christ who promises:  “I am the resurrection, and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

This coming Palm Sunday, we praise Jesus coming to save us from the oppression of the world.  But as He has shown us, the only way to conquer darkness and death is through the light and life of Christ – Christ who thirsts for us; Christ who weeps for us; Christ who enters into human suffering and dies for us on the Cross.  In these trying times, I dare say we have been blessed to feel the pangs of longing for communion.  This, too, shall pass!  And the love of Christ will endure forever! 

While we follow Christ by bearing our own crosses this Lent, our Easter awaits!  So when we feel isolated or abandoned, know that God is with us always:  The God who bore our cup of suffering for us; the God who sweat blood in His agony in the Garden.  And yet, nothing – not evil, not sin, not the Coronavirus, nor death itself, can keep our Christ from raising us up!

Our task right now is to be not afraid!  Keep the faith!  And know that in our desolation, Christ crucified is in us – in every beat of our hearts, in every breath we take – in every burden that presses down upon us, Jesus is under that load too. 

When I was first worrying about whether we were having public Easter services, a parishioner said:  “Y’know, Father, whenever that first Sunday comes when we can come together to celebrate Mass will be our Easter!”   Blessed be God for placing me in the midst of such steadfast and faithful people at Holy Trinity!  I, who preach to you, to be not afraid, have been reminded that, no matter what, God is with us.  No matter what dark time we encounter in the Lenten journeys of our lives all year round, we are an Easter People!  We may at times feel far from God, but He NEVER abandons us!  Even from our social and physical isolation, I pray that we keep faith that we are one in Spirit; one in Christ’s body, His Church.

Cry out to God in these times, and He will hear us.  He has heard us and sent us Jesus Christ.  Pray for one another, for our Church, for the world at large, that they who thirst and weep may realize:  Christ thirsts and weeps for us first!  Even if we’re on lockdown this Easter, remember:  Our Easter has come!  The very last words of the Gospel according to Matthew reveal the Risen Christ’s promise to us:  “… behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

This is our age!  The age of the Church!  Until Christ comes again at the end of time!  Let’s ease one another’s sorrows in these trying times, and double each other’s joy in our communion with Christ.

United in faith, hope, and love,

Fr. John Cronin