Fourth Sunday of Lent – 22 March 2020 [2nd Scrutiny RCIA]
Laetare Sunday at ST. JOSEPH’S PASSIONIST CHURCH.
Sunday Readings: Year A; Weekday Readings Year II.
Reflection – [only view of Aidan Troy]
Laetare Sunday is the Sunday to rejoice! The vestments change colour from the sombre violet of Lent to a more pastoral shade of rose. The tone of the Liturgy this weekend is more ‘upbeat’. We are getting ever closer to the great events of our Salvation that will take us through the Cross to the glory of the Resurrection. That, indeed, is a reason to rejoice.
This year is like none other which you or I have ever known. On Ash Wednesday the opening prayer of the Mass offered us an invitation ‘to take up battle against spiritual evils’. That prayer retains all its power and validity. It has been added to by the present ‘war’ on the COVID-19 virus. Prayer for victory over both the spiritual and physical attacks are now very much part of our Lenten prayer.
The present virus devastating our world is neither a grace nor a curse on us. It is a medical reality known to God for reasons beyond our understanding. But while we can fight the virus by following advice, we can grow in grace by our way or responding to God in this challenge which none of us could have predicted. There is, let me be clear, no element of punishment in this present moment of worldwide trial. That is not who God is and not how He treats His beloved children.
A grace from this present pandemic can come in how we enter into this moment of the Passion on our earth. A week ago, I would have said that I saw clearly and tried to appreciate generously how God is showering gifts on us at St Joseph’s. If you are elsewhere, dear reader, please look at the blessings all around you in your parish and in your situation.
A grace that has come to me is to realise that, like the man in the Gospel today, I need Jesus to restore the eyes of my mind. I may see you clearly but had become blind to the marvels of His grace in you before my eyes. This happened for me last Sunday in this way.
For the first time since coming to St Joseph’s, I went for a walk by the Seine mid-morning last Sunday. It was very quiet, no restaurants open, no boats on the river and few people about. I should have been overcome with joy. While it was peaceful, there was something missing. Or rather, someone was missing. It was you the parishioners and visitors that throng St Joseph’s in thousands every weekend. I had begun to take you and all this for granted and as simply ‘normal’.
But it is not. Each child who scampers into CCD on a Sunday morning is pure gift of God to their Parents and to us. All teachers and assistants in classrooms are put there by God to be His instrument of faith and witness to love. The small ones are not to be overlooked. Maybe they are small but are ‘big’ people in God’s eyes.
Choirs singing, organ, guitars and other instruments raise the Liturgy to Heaven by their beauty. Last Sunday offering Mass on YouTube to an empty church building with no music and congregation left me lonely. Within this public worship of the Church you who pray, and make sacrifices are the heart of St Joseph’s. Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Ushers, Altar Servers and all who play a role, you are total git of God. I always saw you but presumed that this was ‘normal’. You are a gift of God to each other and to me. My eyes are being opened by Jesus as truly as the blind man.
After Mass hospitality and a bookstore add to the warmth of our community with a constant flow of conversation. I took it for granted that RCIA Candidates, children for Baptism and other sacraments were ‘tasks’ to be done. How blind I had become. Not one of these should ever be taken for granted. The very kind invitation to share a meal with you, I had taken as ‘normal’. That was wrong on my part.
By the river last Sunday, I offered thanks for the Eucharist; but I was feeling the loneliness of absence of His presence in you, His Body of beloved people. Let us see each other as gift and grace and not drift apart in these days of the Passion.