Lock down cannot last go on indefinitely. That’s for certain. In the last few days, the tension between keeping people physically safe and keeping people mentally healthy has been to the fore.
The discussion about the reopening of schools and the benefits and dangers has been widely debated. One basic truth which has become even more clearly understood and experienced is the fact that we are social beings. The Book of Genesis brings to us that fundamental truth that it is not good that man should be alone. Our schools, their classrooms, playgrounds, assembly halls and dining halls all bear united witness to the fact that we are social beings and naturally drawn to be in company with each other. It is a universal truth.
What is true of the world and all its peoples, of course, is especially true of our spiritual selves which is, for us, one of the reasons why it is so difficult to live through these days of enforced separation for the Body of Christ.
Our second reading today brings before us the powerful words of the writer of the First Letter of Peter:-
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation.
A people set apart to sing the praises of God,
Who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
We are to sing the praises of God constantly, not only in specific acts of worship but with our entire lives. Having said that, the greatest expression we can give to our truest identity is in gathering together as the Body of Christ on the Lord’s Day to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of our Saviour.
A great witness to this was given in a Roman courthouse in Carthage at the beginning of the fourth century. Arrested during the celebration of Sunday Eucharist in a house Church, the 49 Christians of Abitene were interrogated as to their motives for gathering. The response to their interrogators question was simply, We can not live without Sunday – without this coming together, this gathering on the Lord’s day. Sunday in this instance has a triple meaning. It refers to the day, it refers to the event, the death and resurrection of Jesus and it refers to his presence to and in the gathered assembly.
We cannot live without Sunday.
That truth holds firm also today. We can echo the testimony of these North African martyrs. We live from what we are given in the Sunday Eucharist and we truly live for the Eucharist. We are called to allow those words to take on an even deeper meaning for us in these days where gathering is temporarily not possible.
We allow the Word of God for this week to give us real nourishment.
We ask the Lord to help us to hear his words spoken to us, spoken to the Body of Christ and to be uplifted and consoled by what he says to us right now:-
“Do not let your hearts be troubled
Trust in God still and trust in me”
Those words can take us in all sorts of different directions and apply in all sorts of life situations.
Perhaps we can sit down with them today, spend time with them and let them help us to know that our Lord and God continues to be with us and to be for us, even through this time of trial, our way, our truth and our life.
5th Sunday of Easter
10th May 2020