Lazarus and Coronavirus
How's everybody doing? Okay I hope? It's important to keep checking in on each other, especially those who live alone, during times like this. Make sure you give grandma a call! Seriously, though, we're on week 3 of this now, and there's plenty to be sick of! Leftovers, siblings, boredom, just about anything can annoy us at a time like this. But there's plenty of stuff out there talking about how tough this is. I want to spend some time talking about some stuff that is undeniably, irrefutably, 100% awesome.
Did you catch this Sunday's Gospel? Sure, we can't physically go to mass right now, but that doesn't mean that God isn't around anymore! Fr. Romans and Fr. Federico are livestreaming mass at 1pm every Sunday during this time, and there are literally thousands of streamed masses happening every day around the world. That's one thing I want us to recognize and be grateful for: the extraordinary, revolutionary ministry of our clergy during these tough times.
I have been absolutely blown away by those whom God has chosen for the priesthood throughout all of this. Think about it, this cannot be an easy time to be a priest! How would you feel if you devoted your entire life to bringing people to Christ and the Sacraments and were then told that people wouldn't be around for over a month? That is incredibly difficult! But let's take a look at what some of the world's priests have been up to.
Touching on livestream masses, I personally know many priests who have had to quickly acclimate to technology that they've never used before to share in the mass with their flocks. I've also seen multiple priests and bishops get involved with ProjectYM, a weekly virtual youth group night that's drawn over 10,000 viewers. How amazing it is that our priests, some of them over 70, are working so hard to engage with the young Church and let them know they are not forgotten!
Finally, we have to touch on Pope Francis. If you have not yet seen the video of his Urbi et Orbi blessing from this past Friday, you should. There are few images that have touched me more during this crisis than that of an 83 year old man with sciatica standing in the rain blessing the entire Catholic Church with the Eucharist and kissing the feet of a miraculous Crucifix. Unbelievably powerful. Make sure you pray for our priests during this time. They need our prayers as much as anyone else!
If you did happen to catch a livestream mass this Sunday, or even just read the Gospel for yourself, you'll know that we heard the story of Lazarus. Man, was this timely or what? Gotta love those moments where God tells you exactly what you need to hear. If you remember back, the people are initially resistant to rolling away the stone from Lazarus' tomb. Why? "'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'" In other words, tombs stink.
One could argue that we're in our own type of tomb right now, stuck inside with limited trips into the wide world. And you know what? It kind of stinks! My good friend, Fr. Erik Lenhart, mentioned something else that stinks in his homily this weekend: fertilizer. Fertilizer is messy, ugly, and smelly, but it brings about new life...just like the tomb of Lazarus.
When Lazarus died and Jesus wept for His friend, many people wondered why He hadn't simply spared Lazarus from death. After all, if Jesus was the Messiah as He claimed, couldn't He have stopped it from happening in the first place? The answer, of course, is yes. Jesus could have stopped Lazarus from dying. However, he chose to allow Lazarus' death so that He could raise him and show the world that He is the Son of God.
The tomb, the fertilizer, and our situation. They all stink! But God uses all things, even the stinky, for good. He is using this craziness for good. I don't know exactly how, but that's because I'm not God. We should take comfort in the fact that He knows why this is happening and the new life that's waiting on the other side of it. Let's look to that. Let's yearn for that. And let's embrace and appreciate it when it gets here.
One final thought before I go: the news can be SUPER scary and anxiety-inducing right now. America's sweetheart, John Krasinski (better known as Jim Halpert from The Office), has started a fantastic Youtube news program called Some Good News that only covers the good news happening right now. If you're down, need a pick-me-up, or just want to smile, check it out. You won't regret it!
Keep praying, keep trusting the Lord, and keep washing those hands. We'll get through this together.
God Bless you all,
Some Good News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5pgG1M_h_U
ProjectYM Live: https://live.projectym.com/
Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi blessing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvE1ncKned8