Just a word… Third Sunday of Lent…

Just a word…Third Sunday of Lent…March 7, 2021

Our readings today take us from the giving of the 10 commandments to the cleansing of the money-changers from the temple, giving us much food for thought. However, today, as we move toward the year anniversary of the virus that has changed our lives and our world, I would like to consider and reflect on the parish and how we have been weathering this challenging time. In previous troubled times, we would reach out to family, friends and our religious communities for strength and hope as we try to cope with the uncertainties that face us. This time, those avenues for comfort were not readily available to most of us, and we have had to find other means of consolation. We humans need community in order to flourish; consider the lesson of the Trinity, telling us that relationship is the hallmark of being human. How can we experience community in our current environment?

Consider for a moment where you have found the strength to move ahead and live your life in the best possible way, allowing for the restrictions we all face. That is the question Frank, Beth and I have in mind as we have zoom conversations with different groups of ministers in the parish. These ongoing conversations have given us consolation, and hope as well.

Through phone calls, emails, letters and personal meetings (safely-spaced and masked), we have shared your joys and sorrows. The notes you attach to the offerings you send by mail or deliver to the rectory – wishing us well, thanking us for keeping the parish together, and telling us of your longing for a return to more normal days, fill us with hope for the better days that are in the offing. Your financial contributions have kept us solvent. You have demonstrated your love of and commitment to the parish in these ways and more. By being present to us, you have filled us with hope. It is our fervent wish that our being present to you, in the ways that are available to us, offer you that same hope.

Although our gathering has been restricted by the threat of disease and the necessary protocols, our community is still thriving. Physical isolation from one another has opened the doors of creativity; groups are meeting by zoom; the 10 am Mass is live-streamed for those at home; the website contains the recording of Just a Word, the bulletin, and most recently, Taizé, making a beloved St. A’s Lenten tradition available to all.

We are currently planning the Triduum services, which, though necessarily modified, will happen, unlike the desert of last year’s Holy Week. Though mostly hidden from view, improvements have been happening on the parish campus. The crumbling wall on the driveway side of the hall has been repaired; the comprehensive fire alarm system required by the Fire Marshall for the new stove in the hall kitchen is 95% complete; necessary tree work has been taken care of. Of course, there is much more to be done (the driveway and parking lot come to mind immediately), but as we look forward to Spring, vaccines and the remission of the virus, we are prioritizing projects and will move forward as time and funds permit. We are looking forward to a huge parish celebration in the not too distant future!

Our parish has a tradition, personified by Fr. John, of welcome, of invitation to become part of the mixed bag that every community is, a mixed bag ever on the path to becoming more attentive to the call of Christ, to the cries of the poor, to the connection between the Gospel and our lived experience. In this sacred space, let us move forward into the future together, gathered in this community founded by Christ, fueled by the Gospel and not by ideology, caring for one another and the world.  Let us ask the Lord to enable us to engage with one another so as to enhance our individual and communal transformation into a clearer image of Christ in this time and place.

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