Another week has passed since I last wrote. The novel coronavirus continues its exponential spread. We now have parishioners who have contracted COVID-19. Here in Windsor we have our first deaths. There are people from the parish or their family members on the front lines in hospitals and other health care facilities in Ontario and Michigan. Others are on the front lines in other ways: working essential services like grocery stores, running errands and doing shopping for the more vulnerable, calling others on the phone, and praying for one another. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you. In many ways you are acting as the Lord’s servant in Isaiah, who, in this weekend’s first reading, asks that he “may know how to sustain the weary with a word”.
And in the Church we begin Holy Week, this most solemn time of the liturgical year. Our celebrations will seem so strange: no palms on Palm Sunday, no congregations gathering, no people present at the Chrism Mass in London, no washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, nobody in church on Good Friday, no Easter fire or Baptisms on Holy Saturday, no crowds on Easter Sunday. There are lots of “nos”. There are also lots of people suffering: those who have contracted COVID-19, those who care for them, those who lose their lives, those who are left behind. There are people whose partners abuse them who are in precarious situations because they cannot easily leave—and there is more abuse because of the stress of what we are living. There are those who have lost their jobs, or had their incomes drastically reduced. Some suffer from other illnesses and can’t go to hospital because of fear of contracting the virus. Times are very hard for many people.
Even though we usually focus on the palms, the official name of this Sunday is Passion Sunday. It is a time to reflect on the reality that in Jesus, our God loves us so much he was willing to embrace our reality completely, even to the point of dying. In embracing our humanity, God knows what it is like to suffer from COVID-19, to suffer from abuse, to lose income, to lose loved ones. God suffers, yet the final word is not death, but rather life. The end of the story is not Passion Sunday or Good Friday, but rather Easter Sunday. And the amazing thing is that we don’t have to wait until some future day of resurrection to experience new life. There are so many “silver linings” amidst the “clouds” of the coronavirus, all of them tiny foretastes of the life that God has in store for us. We see people putting themselves at risk to help others, giving of themselves in so many ways. Families, friends, and acquaintances are reaching out to check on one another. When we look around, it is easy to see life poking through the cracks, as it were.
In our phone calls to parishioners we have been asked to pray for so many intentions. Please be assured that Fr. Steven, Fr. Leo, and I are praying for your needs and intentions, holding you all in prayer before our loving God, and asking that your needs be met and that we may know Life. Stay safe!