Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?
SETTING: colours, pictures, lights depicting hope.
The empty tomb laughs in the face of death
and calls for love to embrace the world.
You, O God, have set the pattern
for our future – to love as Jesus loves
with a joyful heart, kind and caring.
Help me, and all of us, to move out from
our “tombs” with new found energy and love
for one another, leaving lockdown,
becoming locked in to
The empty tomb is death’s open wound. A gaping hole exposes the power of love unable to be contained, even by death. This is the spark that opened graves, dispelled fear, brought people out of hiding and transformed them into proud, unyielding witnesses. The empty tomb spells the resurrection of Jesus and signals the undying hope of Christians.
The empty tomb can be a symbol, and a motivating force, for those emerging from this time of lockdown. Isolated and hidden from the tentacles of Covid-19, whole populations world-wide have stayed home as a prime defence against the killer virus. And, in the process, we have learned much about ourselves, about our need for company, of living in community.
As we prepare to leave our “tombs”, are we ready to put into practice the lessons of this solitude? How will our “new life” be distinguished from our “former selves”?
SCRIPTURE – JOHN 20:19-21 [NRSV]
The disciples were in lockdown! Behind locked doors, “for fear of the Jews”, they were still unable to accept the reality of the resurrection. Jesus appeared among them, reassuring them. But Thomas wasn’t in the bubble at that time, and a week later, although the doors were shut, Jesus comes again…
It seems the disciples were in self-isolation for at least two weeks!
Stay with this reading; let it speak to you –
- of your own time in lockdown – how has it tested you?
- of your understanding of the resurrection – how hesitant or reluctant is your belief?
- of the barriers you still place between yourself and Jesus
- of the barriers still in place between yourself and others
Let you heart talk with Jesus about how you want to live your life following this lockdown experience – and how you might begin the change before restrictions are lifted. Let the disciples into your bubble. Listen and learn.
On this planet, over the last three thousand years, different religious traditions developed. All these traditions carry the same message: the message of love. So the purpose of these different traditions is to promote and strengthen the value of love, compassion. So different medicine, but same aim: to cure our pain, our illness. ….even scientists now say basic human nature is compassionate. [Dalai Lama, The Book of Joy, p.251]
We all carry “seeds of compassion”. Has lockdown, this time of separation from our usual lifestyle and relationships, placed us in a garden nursery or greenhouse environment, nurturing these seeds? Imagine the result!
When you say, ‘I I I I’ you are going to come a cropper. But when you say, ‘How can I help?’ even in the midst of your deep anguish, it’s got an alchemy that transforms your pain. It may not take it away. But it becomes in a way bearable, more than it was at the time when you were just saying ‘poor me’, thinking only about yourself. [ibid. p.255]
We’re wired to be other-regarding. We shrivel if there’s no other. It’s really a glorious thing. When you say, ‘I will care for only me,’ in an extraordinary way that me shrivels and gets smaller and smaller. And you find satisfaction and joy increasingly elusive. [Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy, p.257]
Recall Queen Elizabeth II’s words:
Believe in “the instinctive compassion to heal.”
What are some of your “hopes” for yourself, your neighbourhood, your parish and for our world, rising from your experience of lockdown, that might contribute positively to post-virus re-creation?
PRAYERS OF PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING – For:
- those working to provide “essential services”
- front line medical staff and all caregivers
- parents coping with limited space and other resources
- the gift of life
PRAYERS OF PETITION – For:
- those grieving the loss of loved ones
- victims of violence
- those afraid or alone
- the sick, mentally and physically
O God, so rich in mercy and compassion…
Send forth your spirit
And renew the face of the earth
[see Psalm 104]
LITANY OF TRANSFORMATION
You took what was small and made it enough
Response: We praise the wonder of our God
You took what was ordinary and made it extraordinary. [R]
You took what the world holds in contempt and made it a treasure. [R]
You took what was wounded and made it whole. [R]
You took wind and storm and made the calm. [R]
You took a child by the hand and gave her life. [R]
You took people afraid and gave them courage. [R]
You took time to listen and gave space to hear. [R]
You took sin and weakness and gave pardon and peace. [R]
You took bread and wine and gave yourself. [R]
You took death and showed it how to live. [R]