Four months in, and the world has spent the first couple of months of this year and decade in quarantine and fighting COVID-19. I myself am in the middle of my 5th week of quarantine right now. It is my school's "Spring Break" and I was supposed to be in Baltimore this week speaking at a conference and reconnecting with many of my Catholic teacher friends and colleagues. Last week was Holy Week and I was supposed to be a sponsor for a candidate waiting to receive the Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church. Now he is having to wait even longer. It is kind of hard to think of those picture posts and hopeful decade recaps now.
But it is the Easter season! A time that the Church has designated and set up for us to rejoice. So how do we rejoice in this time of quarantine?
It is easy to focus on the negative. I have struggled with this my entire life. It is easy for me right now to go through all of the things I am not doing or could be doing. But the Church calls us right now to look at the good works that God has done, doing, and will do in the times to come.
During Lent, my spiritual practice was to read the Gospel for each day and say a decade of the rosary for someone. Even though Lent is over, I want to continue this practice. I feel like I need to continue this practice in order to get outside of my head and give myself some perspective.
Plus, the readings right now and for the Easter season are so full of joy and Good News, but also some uncertainty as the apostles figure out what Christ's Resurrection means and how they are to go out and preach about it to the world.
In today's first reading from Acts, Peter and John have just healed a crippled man. The crippled man is "clinging" to them ( I love this image) and the crowd that witnessed the miracle are amazed. Peter, however, quickly points them to Christ. It is not Peter or John who are divine, it is only through the Risen Christ that they are able to work miracles. Peter points also to the prophecies of the Old Testament and Moses who foreshadow everything that Christ embodies. Peter reminds them of this so that they will believe. (Acts 3:11-26)
The Gospel for today is also from Luke (Luke wrote the book of Acts) and describes Jesus appearing to the apostles in the Upper Room after His Resurrection. This image struck me:
1.) The apostles are gathered "locked" in a room. Quarantined even?
2.) They are uncertain and afraid and think Jesus is a ghost when they first see Him. But Jesus says to them:
"Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?"
I mean...I feel like it is very obvious why they are troubled and what questions they have! They had just seen Him die days earlier and now here He was again in their midst.
I think the questions for us, too, are obvious right now. When will this be over? When will we have tests and a vaccine? When can we leave our "upper rooms" again?
But in this upper room, later in the Easter Season (spoiler!) the apostles will receive the Holy Spirit to guide them and give them help even when they are uncertain. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that gives Peter and John the power to perform miracles in the book of Acts.The Church teaches that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Piety, Understanding, Fortitude, Fear of the Lord, Counsel, Wisdom and Knowledge. I feel like we could use an increase of all of these right now.
I guess my reflection and questions for today are: What good works are we still able to see even from our upper rooms? Even in our uncertainty, are there still amazing things happening? What miraculous things is Jesus still able to do and doing during this time?
It is easy to see the negative and this is a serious time. But Easter has happened and we are in this season of joy regardless. I see joy and good works in Face Timing with my niece and nephew and family and friends. I see joy and good works in the health care providers who leave their homes to help us each day. I see joy and good works in the acts of charity communities are performing to reach out to one another. I see joy and good works in the parents who are struggling to teach their children at home.
Where do you see good works and joy even in the uncertainty of our Upper Room?
Hoping and praying that we are able to burst forth with the Holy Spirit by Pentecost (50 days after Easter. Maybe by then we will be able to see one another again in person? Maybe?!)
In the meantime, here is some more of my Easter 2020: