Just a word… Seventh Sunday of Easter…
Just a word… Seventh Sunday of Easter… May 16, 2021
The gospel that John gives us today is the prayer of Jesus for and to his disciples… and that includes us! Jesus is concerned that when he leaves the earth his followers will forget the ways in which he provided a conduit between his disciples and the Father. He is fearful that instead of their remaining united as his followers, dedicated to the preaching and living of his words and example, they will separate, disperse as so many sheep, each going their own way, consumed by the attractions of the world and losing sight of the greater meaning of their lives.
This gospel is particularly appropriate for the moment in which we find ourselves. We have been under siege by a stealthy, mysterious virus that has held us in its thrall for some fifteen months, confining us to our homes, cutting us off from contact with others, both family and friend, and making us afraid to venture forth to those places and activities that previously brought us comfort and peace. Our schedules have been abbreviated or have simply evaporated; our relationships with others have been strained by too much togetherness or none at all. We find ourselves at a crossroad; restrictions are being lifted… we have changed our habits… and now that we have the opportunity to resume some pre-pandemic behavior, we have a choice as to how to structure our post-pandemic life. Do we want to return to an exhausting, over-scheduled life? Have we spent any of our imposed solitude reflecting on our lives?
Have we discovered what is really important, what gives life and meaning to our lives?
In his prayer to the Father, Jesus prays that all may be one, that his followers will not surrender to their individual pursuits but will remember what he has said and done, and remain united in his name. Jesus, as he was preparing to leave this earth, was determined to leave us pathways to encourage us to remain as one in experiencing the Father’s love and care for us. One of the surest ways to do that is to gather as we do in this church, where we can experience together the life-giving grace of God’s love. When we worship together in community we become united, focused on the love that is capable of overcoming all differences, and fed by that grace that fuels us to become as Christ in the world outside the doors of the church.
Next weekend, on the Feast of Pentecost, we relinquish our dependence on reserving spaces for Mass. We no longer have to check-in on the porch; we can sit where we would like to sit. We still will be wearing masks, but that is a small price to pay for protecting ourselves and others. Beginning on the weekend of June 5, 6, we will return to our pre-pandemic Mass schedule: Saturdays at 6 pm; Sundays at 8, 10 and 11:30… but with a caveat. According to the bishop, this is the moment for parishes to evaluate their resources. Should one of the Mass times prove to be under-attended, that time slot might have to be eliminated.
So, people, this is the time to vote with your feet! Choose your favorite Mass time and come…let your presence be counted. It is time to give up pancakes and coffee on the couch and return to Word and Sacrament in the pew. Let us answer Jesus’ prayer that we might all be one by showing up, being fed, and going forth to shine our light on the world. It is up to us, each one of us, to answer Jesus’ prayer by coming together again and celebrating in person the gift that gives us life. Jesus is waiting for you!