Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 24, 2020
When the STAY AT HOME is finally lifted…I don’t know where to go first…Weight Watchers or AA!
The joke has been told and retold so many times lately that it’s no longer funny. Actually, the first time I heard it, although I laughed, it “hit home” with a sobering punch. Whether out of boredom, the need for comfort, the lack of healthy choices resulting from limiting our visits to the grocery store, or the reduced activity because of the STAY AT HOME ORDER, many of us find ourselves loosening our belts. The Japanese actually have a special word to describe this needless…or mindless eating or drinking, basically uncontrolled snacking.
translated “lonely mouth,” conveys a sense of the longing or urge to “put something into our mouth.” Although it is almost impossible for me to pronounce, it occurs to me that
is the perfect word to describe how we Christians feel as, week after week, we are forced to go without receiving Holy Communion. We LONG to put The Eucharist into our mouths. We hunger for The Body of Christ. And rightly so! The Eucharist is the very source and summit of our faith.
Our First Reading from Acts reinforces the need for us to come together to do as Jesus told us…
Break The Bread and Share The Cup.
Having experienced Christ’s Ascension, the Apostles returned to the upper room, the very place where Jesus instituted the Eucharist. Joining with the other disciples, they prayed together.
Although technology enables us to pray together simultaneously by watching the liturgy on our televisions and computers, we miss the sense of community and the feeling of unity that comes from praying together…physically together. During these times when we have no choice but to distance ourselves from one another, our “mouths are lonely” for Holy Communion and our hearts are lonely for one another. This sense of physical and spiritual isolation has, no doubt, been the cause of much suffering.
So then, our Second Reading deserves special attention. Consider the opening line:
Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed, you may also rejoice exultantly.
Certainly, when we speak of Christ’s sufferings, the first thing that comes to mind is The Lord’s agony and death on The Cross. By its very nature, the pandemic has brought with it extreme physical suffering by those who have contracted the virus. But, at the same time, people all around the world are suffering from the emotional and spiritual consequences of the pandemic. In that way, too, humanity is sharing in the spiritual and emotional suffering of Jesus. As He entered into His Passion, The Lord suffered greatly from what He experienced as distancing from The Father.
The Church has wisely selected a passage from John’s Gospel to complete the Liturgy of The Word on this final Sunday of the Easter Season. Taken from what is referred to as “The Last Supper Discourse” or “Jesus’s Farewell Address,” the chapter we hear is known as “The Priestly Prayer of Jesus.” Anticipating His betrayal, great suffering, and death, the Lord nevertheless expresses unwavering confidence in His perfect, unbreakable, and eternal unity with The Father.
Admittedly, the concept of “shared glory” is hard to wrap our minds around, but what we hear in this prayer is His unshaken faith in The Father’s love…as well as The Lord’s response of perfect love and perfect obedience. Through His prayer, Jesus teaches us to be confident in The Almighty’s power and presence among us, especially in times of suffering or doubt. God is always with us.
The takeaway in all of this is simple:
When the STAY AT HOME is finally lifted…the first place people of faith will
go is back to their parish Churches to join their spiritual families in celebrating Eucharist.
In the meantime, however, as we wait for that day when things return to normal, there is really no reason for our mouths to “be lonely.” And there is no reason for us to suffer from lonely hearts. God is always present to us!