Pastor's Blog - May 24, 2020
Ascension of the Lord
God has a way of bringing blessings out of curses. If we take the time to prayerfully reflect on the dark days of our lives, we will invariably discover a ray of light. If we look carefully at the difficult challenges we have faced in life, we are sure to spot some evidence of God’s grace at work, guiding us through dark valleys and leading us to greener pastures. Perhaps the coronavirus crisis is a good example. In the midst of all the hardship, the heartache, and the deprivation we have experienced in different ways, we have witnessed the inspiring and heroic service of medical personnel and first responders; and the creativity and dedication of teachers to their students as they quickly adapted to a virtual mode of education. We have also seen the tireless, loving care of family members for their loved ones who either have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or remain vulnerable to infection because of their fragile health. In the curse-worthy mix of all the worry and anxiety that the coronavirus has thrust upon us, God has given us the blessing of people to lift our spirits and bolster our hope.
That is what Jesus did for his disciples in his farewell address to them shortly before his Passion. In the gospel passage for this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we have the privilege of listening in on Jesus’ intimate conversation with his Father. In this extended prayerful monologue, Jesus expresses his affection for his followers, saying to the Father: “they belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word”…and “I pray for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” So anticipating the trauma and grief his disciples would experience after his death, Jesus prayed that his Father would take care of them, a prayer that was definitely answered in Jesus’ eventual resurrection and in the subsequent descent of the Holy Spirit.
As we ponder the last few months, the tendency may be to focus on the losses and difficulties we have experienced. Today’s gospel invites us to think about any blessings we may have received trying to cope with the serious consequences of this pandemic. Perhaps we have been blessed with the kindness and thoughtfulness of friends and neighbors; or maybe we have developed a deeper appreciation and gratitude for those who work in hospitals and grocery stores; or it could be that we have begun to be more reliant on our faith and personal prayer, taking a cue from what Mary and the apostles did in the upper room awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit following Jesus’ Ascension. A number of our parishioners have told me that in the absence of Mass, they have gotten in touch with their longing, their hunger for the Eucharist. God has a way of bringing blessings out of curses. In the days ahead, may we name and treasure those blessings!
News and Notes:
As you know, on Monday May 18, Governor Baker announced that houses of worship can now reopen if they follow certain guidelines and observe certain restrictions. Subsequently, Cardinal Sean has allowed parishes to resume celebrating Masses when they are thoroughly disinfected and otherwise properly prepared. We plan to resume weekend Masses with a limited schedule of liturgies next weekend (May 30-31), which is the feast of Pentecost. I am announcing the times and locations of those Masses next weekend on our website and through a Constant Contact email that we are sending to our parishioners. If you plan on attending one of these Masses, you must sign up for Mass ahead of time, wear a mask in church, and maintain social distancing during the liturgy. For those who are uncomfortable venturing out or unable to come to church we will continue to offer an electronic Mass on our website for the foreseeable future. We have been working as quickly as we can to work out the details for next weekend and to check all the boxes that the Archdiocese requires for us to reopen our churches. Check our website (lynnfieldcatholic.org) for updated information throughout the week.