5 April 2020
This is a Lent unlike any of us have ever experienced. The first Sunday when we read about Jesus spending forty days in the desert, who would have guessed that we would have a desert-like experience ourselves – staying in our homes and social distancing for what seems will likely be forty days or more? As Jesus emerged from the desert we heard he was tempted by Satan, but resisted the three temptations. Tuesday mornings I meet with seven to ten other pastors serving in Hudson. We pray and share our experiences. This past week we reflected on our reactions will be when we emerge from this experience: will we be tempted to go back to our lives as they were before, or will we have a new appreciation for gathering in our churches, and as Catholics, sharing and receiving the Eucharist? Lent as a season in the Church year is meant to change us. What will this Lent do for us?
Lent is quickly coming to an end as we begin Holy Week with our celebration of Palm Sunday. We are working at keeping the palms fresh, and if they stay in reasonably good condition, we will distribute at a later date. Without the palms in our hands, we still remember Jesus entering triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem. His triumphant entry quickly turns bittersweet as he is arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to death. His sentence is carried out in swift order. The saving act on Jesus’ part starts in this fashion: though we are left with Jesus’ death upon the cross as the Gospel reading is read, let us not forget that his entry was triumphant. As the story began, so will it end.
From his entry until the triumphant victory, much took place. Everything that happened is remembered and celebrated from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday. Holy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper. Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover. We hear on Holy Thursday night about this. But there is something missing at the Passover meal when Jesus celebrates with his disciples. There is bread and there is wine, but there is no Lamb. Or is there? That is the question we will ask this year when we celebrate Holy Thursday. Where is the Lamb? (Mass from Saint Patrick Parish will be Live Streamed at 7 PM on Holy Thursday on our parish Facebook page: Saint Patrick Parish, The Catholic Community of Hudson. It will be able to be viewed later by going to our parish website; Facebook is not needed to view it on our website.)
This question will not only be asked on Holy Thursday, we will ask it again on Good Friday: where is the Lamb? On Good Friday, the Lamb is in a place different than on Holy Thursday, but not all that different. At the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday, we will ask the question again: where is the Lamb? The Liturgies from Saint Patrick Parish will be Live Streamed. Unfortunately we will not be gathering at our church for what is the most important week of the year for us. As I said a few weeks ago, when it was first announced that all public celebrations of the Mass would be suspended, this is akin to a death. The suffering is great, and it is real. But as we will learn this Easter, we never suffer alone: the Lamb is present with us and for us, the Lamb understands our suffering, the Lamb suffered for us, so death leads to life. Lent is a season of change, and the Lamb forever changed the world.