April 26, 2020
Happy Easter! With the Church, we celebrate the Easter Season for 50 days, through
Pentecost Sunday (May 31 this year). On Pentecost, we remember the descent of the
Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Upper Room (Acts
2). In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting civil directives, we do
well to remember that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has called not only the
Apostles and Jesus’ Mother, but each of us to be His disciples, to give witness to His
Resurrection, to live the God-given virtues of faith, hope and love, in our words and
deeds. In light of this call, in the Gospel this Sunday, we read about Our Lord calling
the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), reminding us all to recognize
Him in His Word and Holy Eucharist.
This year, as we’ve been persevering by God’s grace through this challenging time of the pandemic, the majority of people’s experience of the Eucharist has been a spiritual one because there have been no public celebrations of the Holy Mass since March 17. Except for priests offering Masses privately, nearly all Catholic Christians, faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, have been making spiritual Communions. As a result, many people, I hope and pray, have developed an increased longing for the Eucharist, to physically attend Mass in church and to literally receive Jesus Christ in the mystery of Holy Communion. And many folks have realized or been reminded of what really matters in the life that God has given us here on earth: our faith, our relationship with God, our families and friends, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of the world. A question we might ask is: What does it mean to be “Resurrection-disciples,” disciples of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Seek That Which is Above) and Pope Francis (The Joy of the Gospel) give us some guidance:
The first message of the Risen Lord, communicated by means of the angels and the
women is: Come, follow me; I am going before you! Resurrection-disciples step forward in faith, hope and love to follow Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life ( John 14:6). Saint John and Saint Luke state very clearly where and how Christ has gone and where we are to follow Him: to Heaven ( John 20; Acts 1-2). Jesus Christ tells Mary Magdalene that she has to wait until He has ascended before she can hold on to Him – and now we can hold on to and follow Jesus in His Church, Word, Sacraments and prayer. That is why Christian tradition deliberately speaks of following Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. We follow, not a dead man, but the living Christ, without compromises, in faithful holy boldness.
Resurrection-disciples embrace the Cross and the Resurrection and Christ’s divine Sonship, accepting the entire path of Jesus Christ, focused on Heaven, our eternal home, going forward into those things that are above, the divine things that are the real ones: truth, faith, hope, love, and our being children of God. Resurrection-disciples step forward in genuine selflessness in order to find what it is to be a human being, a child of God, so as to discover and communicate the joy, truth, beauty and goodness of the Lord that the world so urgently needs. Christian disciples have a duty to manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit – joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) – in our words and deeds as we strive by God’s grace to live the greatest of all the virtues, love, keeping the two great Commandments, love of God and love of neighbor.
Let’s keep praying for an end to the pandemic, for a cure and a morally responsible
vaccine to be developed, for our homes and the entire economy to be re-opened, for God’s strength, courage, healing and peace for us all. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families every day, especially at Mass. By God’s grace, may we faithfully and joyfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, as Resurrection-disciples, giving witness to Him in our words and deeds, asking for His mercy, being merciful and completely trusting in Jesus Christ, the Only Savior of the world. Amen! Alleluia!
With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William Vernon