Palm Sunday: Connecting with God in Quarantine
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
The current world situation is demanding a certain change in our patterns of life. We are confined to ‘indoors’ to prevent the spread of the COVID19 virus.
An opportunity this presents is to be more aware that each of our homes is a ‘domestic Church’. This means that each household is to be experienced as a miniature of the universal Church. This is the reality. In our own family the Church can be present and active.
It raises the question “where and how did I first encounter Jesus”? My memories are of my father getting home late from his work. I was in bed, but I can remember him kneeling down mumbling some brief prayers. My mother had a small crucifix on top of a box where she kept treasured letters from my parents’ courting days. Piling into the car on Sunday morning to get to Mass on time was a memorable part of the week. I guess, I took it all for granted, at the time, but with hindsight, I see that it was very formative for me.
Some people, of course, come to Catholic faith late in life. For others, it is an ‘optional extra’ as we say. For active Catholics, sacraments are essential for nourishing and challenging our living of the faith. Now, with our churches closed, we are challenged to rediscover the graced presence of Jesus in our own homes. We show that by the way we respect and relate with one another in the home. That is not always easy with the current financial crisis. Realizing the difficulties that many are experiencing, some neighbours are reaching out in friendship to others in the street. They are aware of the need to support one another in these drastic times. This can mean a lot to people who are struggling.
Our relationship with God is always essential but we maybe even more aware of it in our current environment. Speaking of our relationships with others, Pope Francis provides a helpful place to start. He said recently “In every relationship be generous with these words: ‘please, thank you and I’m sorry’.” Personally, I find the last one the most difficult – viz: to say “I’m sorry” when the occasion needs it.
I know there are some in our Parish who are making phone calls to those who maybe alone to let them know that they are not forgotten.
Keeping Sunday special may be a challenge when we are without a church in which we gather to celebrate the Liturgy. Incidentally, that word ‘liturgy’ means “public worship”.
Perhaps you could use this time of social isolation to consider what you miss. We are beginning Holy Week. – the most solemn week in the Church’s year.
In his account of the Passion which is in our Liturgy today, Matthew highlights Jesus’ distress and at the same time, His complete fidelity to the Father as He prays: “Father if it is possible let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it”.
As we enter into Holy Week, perhaps we may ask the Holy Spirit to help us enter a little more deeply into the way in which God woos humanity. It is not by force or coercion that God calls us into a love relationship with Himself. Instead, it is with extreme humility and non-violence that Jesus offers Himself bleeding on the Cross for the healing of the world.
When we gaze silently at the Cross, the outstretched arms of Christ are reaching out to each of us in love! As we gaze in our prayer, we may also become more aware that it is in God’s love that we grow into our true selves. This Holy Week, Christ longs to shine through us – especially to those closest to us in the home.