Getting in Touch
Who would have thought that we would be avoiding human contact, keeping safe distances and depending on electronic means to keep in touch.
Deprived of the immediacy of personal engagement, opportunities for travel denied, and lock-down preventing us from attending Mass we have turned to live-streaming, Television, YouTube and Facebook.
While there is real deprivation we can surely see that there are some gains. Except for our Lenten Station Masses, or on holiday, or on some grand occasion, we rarely get the chance to see so many different clergy in such a variety of locations. We should be thankful for those with the relevant expertise who can bring into our homes the sight and sound of the Sacred Mysteries. By reflecting on what we see and hear, this can become a ‘schola’, a school within our homes, in which we learn to see further, reflect more deeply, and to ask questions of ourselves.
It could be said that we are in a form of Exile, and perhaps some reflection on the Jewish Exile might be helpful to us. The insights of the Babylonian exile could strengthen our spiritual sinews and give us hope.
Psalm 136 (in Greek & Latin numbering, 137 in Hebrew and King James Version) is a reaction to the experience of being far removed from their homeland, geographical and spiritual. They are desolate as they ask ‘How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” Through the tears of separation, through the mockery of their captors, that insistent question “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land’, eventually leads, even through the ghastliness of wanting revenge, to new and deeper insights, to the recognition by a later prophet that –
“I the Lord have called you with a righteous purpose, and taken you by hand;
I have formed you, and destined you
To be a light for peoples,
A lamp for nations, to open eyes that are blind, to bring captives out of prison, out of the dungeon where they lay in darkness…..
.. Sing a new song to the Lord, sing his praise throughout the world…”
In the deprivation and isolation of the Exile there is a yearning for real worship, and even when they are so separated the recognition develops that God is with them wherever they are. But, more than that, this realisation takes them out of themselves so that what they treasure and cherish in their worship of God is for everyone everywhere. they are being led into a new future. In short they are becoming Catholic! Universal ! What a wonderful fruit of our exile, to share Catholic truth!
Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth illuminates this insight when he reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and so he begins the great Mission to all mankind. Through the travails of his Passion, even beyond the depths of his despair Jesus continues to lead us out of darkness, out of our dungeons, even the tombs of our own making.
In the economy of God, all things work together for good. This Easter we can sing, in our hearts if not in our voices, the songs of the Lord.
We are not in a strange land, but we are in a different place, which may cause us the same bewildering frustration, and even anxiety, that the Jewish Exiles of old experienced. Like them we can draw new strength, deeper insight, and a renewed vision of the great mission : to share with others the attractive and persuasive understanding that Jesus brings the Divine Mercy, the cherishing compassion of God into all our human circumstances.
As Catholics in the ‘schola of isolation’ we can emerge stronger and more confident that we share the Faith of Our Fathers, Living still…and that Faith is now being more widely viewed as others sit in their homes looking at unfamiliar faces in unfamiliar places, Catholic priests celebrating Mass. These ‘virtual’ celebrations are real Masses, and the same Divine Compassion can reach out to touch the Catholics, the lapsed, the unbelievers, the seekers and the sceptics.
Our Exile has prompted new modes of bringing the Faith to a wider world. Our responsibility is to take seriously the opportunities of our new understanding, our reflective insights, and even our hard questions.
“Jesus, I trust in you.” That is the refrain of the Divine Mercy- the Second Sunday of Easter when we thank God for the immensity of his love, shown in Christ as he reconciles us all to Himself, and through us to a broken world.
What a task! Thank God for the gift of Life! It is good to be alive in God’s world, praying, loving, giving thanks. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia !