5th Sunday of Easter Homily
5th Sunday of EASTER 2020
Fr. David Martin
As I sit typing this reflection, our Premier Blaine Higgs, and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell have just announced the news we have all been waiting for: the relaxations of some of the rules and regulations pertaining to covid 19. We have now moved into ‘orange’ area. This has made many of us very happy, but we still need not let down our guard… we have not beat the virus… yet.
In our lifetime, we have heard many announcements and proclamations of various kinds. We listen to the news that keeps us informed. Unfortunately, many announcements or proclamations made in the past two months have been sobering or challenging: ‘no graduation ceremonies for 2020.’ ‘No funerals, only graveside services with funeral mass to follow at a later date, of course limiting to 10 people in attendance.’ We have heard the unfortunate announcement of 3 million people laid off in our country since the beginning of this pandemic.
And yet there are the good announcements that continue to make their way into our hearts. Commercials portraying our front line workers as ‘hero’s’ that they are; snowbirds flying overhead to give us encouragement. In our own faith community, the Revitalization Committee who have spent so much time preparing the survey results, will announcing our findings that are both challenging and encouraging… the results of our parish survey will be announced at Pentecost. The parish office will now be opened (with strict guidelines).
Throughout history, all kinds of announcements and proclamations have been made. This past Friday, the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE day, the ending of World War II. Somber, and simple ceremonies marked the occasion. Each noontime, our prime minister addresses our nation, to inform us and to encourage and support us. Even commercials on television remind us to be vigilant, using our common sense to stay safe. In whatever form they take, we rely on these announcements and proclamations.
The same can be said of our ‘faith history’. Biblical stories have roused the heart of people to forge ahead, not to lose faith, but to strengthen it. In the Gospel for today, is a story that we have heard before. Jesus gives one of his own stirring announcements. This is happening at the Last Supper scene. His followers are present, it is the darkest hour for Jesus for he knows what awaits him. But in the midst of this, he makes an awesome proclamation reassuring his closes friends, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God and trust in me.” As you read this, you might be thinking, “sure…look at the mess we are in with this pandemic..”
However, we need to remember that Jesus has lived life … just like us. Jesus knows what we are experiencing. Look at those who are suffering from family separation. Those who have lost their jobs. Or those who are mourning. This past week, I had a burial, only 10 in attendance; the son and family lived in Manitoba and could not be with us; and no one could hug. Painful. Then there are those who suffer from depression; or those who lose confidence in themselves. If we look at the life of Jesus, it was not any easier. He was constantly ‘isolated’ by being on the ‘outside’. He was at odds with leaders of the day who twisted his words; or the trouble he had with his disciples: Judas who betrayed him, Peter denying him and Thomas doubting him. And yet through it all, Jesus had total confidence in God. He reminds them that as they trust in God, trust in me!
So often in our own faith journey, we may have doubts, feel lost and unloved by God. We don’t know where we are in relation to God and have no idea how to meet Him. Perhaps Thomas and the other disciples have the answer for us. They did not know the way. They just needed to have trust and confidence in Jesus and follow his lead. Hopefully, we realize that we are always growing in our faith. Once again, for the past 2 months we have had the time for introspection or self-reflection. No doubt we have discovered that the way that Jesus offers is not always appealing: sacrifice, dying to self, first loving ourselves before we can love another… or God! We need to take our cue from Jesus and his way of life: non-judgmental, trusting, and loving of others, and God. Jesus is comfortable in His own skin and he knows who he is. In today’s Gospel, he once again announces, “The Father and I are one.”
My dear friends, as we continue to listen to the proclamations and announcements made to us by the Word of God, and as we strive to model our life on the life of Jesus, we will become ‘the way’ for others. Since our amalgamation and new parish status announced, the people of Holy Spirit Parish have worked tirelessly to bring forth the mandate of a revitalized church by living out our baptismal call. Each parishioner and individual committee continue to show ‘the way’ in a practical and healthy way. Therefore, I encourage us to continue to listen to the announcements made regarding our public safety. As well, I encourage us to listen to our hearts, to let Jesus continue to proclaim his unconditional love for all of us as we move forward… together. Amen.