Welcome to Holy Week! I think it’s safe to say that this is the strangest Triduum we’ve ever encountered. We will be recording the rites of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil but in an abridged format. On Thursday we will not record the washing of the feet but you may do it for each other at home. On Friday you may wish to venerate your crucifix. At the Easter Vigil we will forego the Liturgy of Baptism until a future day (perhaps the Vigil of Pentecost). Regardless, I pray that each of us enter this time with an openness to relive the passion and death of our Savior so that we may rise to new life with him.
As I mentioned at the end of last week’s mass, Archbishop Etienne has asked me and the other priests transitioning to other parishes or retirement this year to stay another year at their respective parishes in light of the coronavirus. I concur with his decision and am happy to be able to be with you another year. May the Lord bless us all.
I’ve been going a bit stir crazy for the past couple of weeks. Many of you may feel the same. Our gospel reading this weekend focuses on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. To Martha and Mary, Jesus personifies the resurrection and the life. In calling forth Lazarus from the tomb he offers new life. During this time of bearing with effects of the spread of the coronavirus may we know deep down that Jesus is call us out of the tomb of fear of the unknown. He will see us and our loved ones through the days and weeks ahead. May his blessing be on us all.
On the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent, the scrutinies are celebrated with the elect (those who are to be baptized at the Easter Vigil) in the presence of the worshipping community. In our case this is taking place at the Life Teen Mass. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults teaches us that “the scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good.” The Gospel passages of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, his giving sight to the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus on these three Sundays are all clearly baptismal in focus and point to water, light, and new life that come from the sacraments of initiation.
Almost a year ago I travelled with forty some others throughout the Holy Land. When we arrived at the Mount of the Transfiguration we waited for vans to take us on up. We were just one of several tour groups preparing for the ascent. I couldn’t help but think that Jesus and his three companions climbed Mt. Tabor in less time than it took for us to finally arrive at the top. It was only when I allowed the stress of the wait to dissipate that I could appreciate the setting and the view below. What a sight it must have been for Peter, James, and John to behold Jesus in his glory, along with Moses and Elijah! It must have taken some nudging for Jesus to get them down from that mountaintop experience. Jesus assures us that even in the most mundane situations of life traces of resurrection can be found. May this Lenten journey deepen our faith.
If we are honest with ourselves we too face the same temptations that Jesus did in the desert. Self gratification rears its ugly head in many circumstances. Discipline is necessary if we are to avoid those shortcut behaviors that provide at best short term satisfaction but not long term renewal. How often have we dreamt about making a mighty splash in our seemingly routine world. It can be hard to believe that living the life we are living, as mundane as it seems, can serve God and others just as well. What about the temptation of having it all? We want so very much to fill up the empty hole within us and so we pursue a materialistic way of life. It is only that which comes from God that gives us what we truly need to be blended and happy. May this Lenten season fill each of us with hope and joy.