The pandemic has given us a new way to see the Paschal Mystery and new ways to respond
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
One of the things that has disheartened me the most during the season of Lent this year is that, because of the current pandemic, we haven’t been in church on the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent. On those Sundays the Church proclaims three powerful Baptismal stories: the meeting of Jesus and the woman at the well in Samaria, the healing of the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus. The living water flowing from Jesus enabled the women to grow, step by step, in her faith in Him. Having his sight restored physically, the blind man gained spiritual insight into who Jesus really is. Lazarus, called forth from the tomb and having the burial cloths removed, could now move forward in freedom to begin a new life. We will have to wait another three years to have these rich and meaningful stories presented again. Or will we?
In this time of crisis, when we are unable to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, we have turned to the living water flowing from the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully, our spending time in meditation and spiritual reading has deepened our understanding of Jesus. With no end of the spread of the virus in sight, our eyes have been opened to the sick and the suffering, as well as to the loving response shown by health care professionals and by generous people in our own communities. Confined to our homes, we have felt called to come out of isolation and reach out to others, so that we can indeed be alone together.
In so many ways we have journeyed through the Paschal Mystery this Lent. In surrendering to death-dealing circumstances, we have become a life-giving people. We have truly undergone a Baptism.
In the Gospel for the Easter Vigil the Risen Jesus indicates to the women that He will be seen by His disciples in Galilee. He will meet them, not in Jerusalem, with its Temple and its great festivals, but in the district where they live their ordinary lives. This Easter the Risen Lord meets us, not in our churches with their solemn liturgies, but in our homes and neighborhoods, our “Galilee”. Will we know Him? Will we recognize that He is living and rising in us?