“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
This line is for me like the “ticker tape” message on the New York Times Building in Times Square, NYC, this morning. It keeps running through my consciousness, calling me to attention. What’s the message?
It is Sunday. It is a Sunday of high ritual; we call it Palm Sunday. (Lots of people are sitting at home weaving crosses of palm fronds right now.) This Palm Sunday will be a challenge for religious people everywhere who are devoted to the rituals that we Christians call “Holy Week” because we have been told to stay home from Church to protect ourselves and one another from the pandemic (COVID-19) that is now ravaging the entire world.
Obedience is more difficult when you cannot see with your eyes the reason for the directive, i.e. in this case: “STAY HOME.” Spring is here. We have a proliferation of daffodils in our yard. The weeping willow trees have that light yellow-green haze that precedes the leafing out of other trees. Today promises to be warm enough for a light coat, and by next Sunday what we used to call “Easter finery.” We can’t see the reason for letting go of everything that we are told is necessary to our well-being, but we know now that it is a matter of life or death.
Reflection on this situation that we cannot see or touch but only know by its effects is perhaps a way to move from outside to inside, from action to intention, and then from head to heart. Take the case of the practicing Catholic who waits for this week to prepare each year for the rituals that end in the glorious feast of Easter. The moments of distress and horror as s/he walks with Jesus through trial, suffering (physical and mental) and ultimately death will be swallowed up in the glory of resurrection. How is all that possible this year?
Can we be satisfied — if we are lucky enough to have live-streamed services — to watch it all on television? If that is not available, can we read the relevant chapters in the Scriptures and put ourselves energetically into the scenes of the week? Can we move through the days in a silence of the heart, a spiritual communion, connecting ourselves to all of our brothers and sisters who are suffering across the world.
This is the day — as is every day — that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice that we are called to deeper understanding of the God who calls us. And may we rejoice in that knowledge that we belong to this God and to one another in a deeper way than ever before — a deeper way of the heart.