“Peace be with you” (John 20:19)
Dear brothers and sisters in the Risen Lord,
Saint John, who was an eye witness of the Risen Lord, writes in his Gospel: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”” (Jn. 20:19). The message of the Risen Lord for us even in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic is that of peace, joy, and hope. The Holy Mother Church through her Easter proclamation invites all creatures in heaven and on earth to rejoice as it says: “Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, Exult, let angels ministers of God exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph! Be glad. Let earth be glad, let the holy building shake with joy”.
This year however, due to Coronavirus, Masses have been suspended and we are unable to participate in the most solemn liturgies of the Holy week and Easter. We cannot receive the Risen Lord in the Eucharist. We are deprived of all spiritual benefits of this holy season. It is the saddest Easter for all of us. Think of our children who are not able to go to school. They are not able to go outside and play with their friends. Think of our elderly who live alone and who live in senior living facilities. Their relatives cannot visit them and they are confined in their tiny rooms. Think of tens of thousands of people who lost their jobs and businesses due to the global crisis. Think of our health workers who are working countless hours at the risk of their own health. Therefore there is anything but joy and peace in our hearts this Easter. Some probably are wondering, if the Risen Lord is with us this Easter at all! Jesus’ enemies thought they got rid of Him. They thought by crucifying Him they crucified everything He stands for. But the truth is He rose again and was seen by his disciples who are eye witnesses of his resurrection. As we celebrate Easter in the midst of this pandemic, we need to remember that this Easter is not merely an anniversary of the first Easter Morning. Today is Easter! Today, Jesus is Risen! Today we share in Jesus’ triumph and victory. Let that victory and triumph touch your lives even in the midst of this global crisis. Jesus is alive and He is with us. Let the risen Lord become real to you. Today… Now.
Even though you are not able to participate in the Sacred Liturgies and receive the Lord Sacramentally, He still comes to you as He came to his disciples who were inside locked doors. He still wants to fill you with his joy and peace. But we must believe in Him. The problem with our society is that we are relying too much on our human institutions, on our resources and on human made things, disregarding God and His commandments. Therefore we must come back to God as individuals, as a society and as a nation, and place ourselves under His protection and care. By His resurrection Jesus has won victory over sin, evil and death and with Him at our side we will be able to defeat Coronavirus and all that threatens our lives. Let us continue to pray for those who have lost their lives due to this virus, those who are suffering and our health workers, who are our heroes, that God may protect them as they take care of us.
Together with Fr. Russ, our Deacons and entire parish staff, I wish you and your loved ones A Blessed and Happy Easter! May the Risen Jesus become even more alive in you, and in your families, protect you and fill you with His peace! Happy Easter!