On this Holy Saturday, our hearts are filled with many thoughts, prayers, and anxiety about the future.
Lent began without Mass, no ashes on Ash Wednesday. We expected to begin several times with a date, only to be told the quarantine would be extended; finally, extended without a date.
Lent was without the liturgy but with the opportunity to internalize it in a way never imagined. Many are those that found it difficult: families who have lost a loved one, the sick and those filled with anxiety and not least of all, those prepared for baptism at the Easter Vigil.
We are all trying to live the Paschal Mystery. The catechumens and all of us are desiring to make this movement from one way of life to another—a Passover. This is the Paschal Mystery that is so important in our lives as Christians. Is it not the pivotal mystery of Christian life?
During Lent, the readings for the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays give the catechumen and all Christians the message of the Scrutinies. These are the readings for the liturgical A year.
In the first of the readings, the Church is asking the persons to be baptized if they have personally encountered Jesus in their preparation. The Samaritan woman meeting Jesus changed her whole life in a very dramatic way and the Church is hoping this will happen to the newly-baptized. It was a meeting that the woman never imagined was possible, changed her thinking, way of life and the lives of those she had difficulty living with.
The second reading on the 4th week is the blind man. The church wants us to accept the fact that we are spiritually blind, deaf and dumb but don't realize it. The blind man in the reading knew of his handicap and desired a change. The catechumens during their months of study should come to a realization of this reality and have a strong desire to be healed. Spiritual blindness is a more serious handicap than physical blindness, but not easily comprehended.
On the third Sunday, we have the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Life is much more than just breathing and moving and doing our daily tasks. We hear often that many go through life never having lived. God is calling us to come out of the tombs we have made for ourselves, and in the reading, it was not Jesus that freed Lazarus to move, but the community was asked to "unbind him, let him go free." We need others to grow and begin to live.
Lent ends with the beginning of Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper and the start of the Holy Triduum— Holy Thursday, Good Friday the Easter Vigil/ Easter Sunday. They are three days but can be considered one day in which we meditate on the Paschal Mystery and the way we should be living it. The Passover from death to life. This year, many, will miss the liturgical representation of the "Passover" but hopefully, it will still mean a 'pass over' to a new life—a gift—ready to receive with outstretched hands.
Jesus gave us the ultimate paradox when he said we have to lose our lives to save them. This sounds crazy, doesn't make sense, counter-intuitive and yet it is the lesson that Christ has given us and we try to experience during these days of Triduum and live daily.
The Coronavirus has entered the lives of most of the world; as Christians, we try to make sense of what it teaches us about life and help us to change the way we think and act.
A Blessed Easter.