Celebrating our Faith during COVID-19
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By Bishop Larry Silva
April 12, 2020
[Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu (private; live-streamed)]
Are we the most foolish and naïve of all people on earth? Are we just so indoctrinated with our faith that we say things that are simply unbelievable? Here we are singing our Alleluias with joyful voices while practically the whole world seems to be falling apart. People are confined to their homes because of the coronavirus, and our economy is turned on its head; or worse, people are suffering and dying from this mysterious disease, which has stopped practically the whole world. And here we are rejoicing? Even before coronavirus became a household word, the world was in great disarray. Countries are warring one against another. Terrorism prevails over law and order in many countries. Political parties are punching at each other, hoping to eliminate their opponent. Religious groups, including Christians, are being persecuted in certain parts of the world. People are scandalized by certain priests molesting minors. Teen suicides are on the rise, and stable marriages are in decline. Opiod use is an epidemic. More and more people are homeless for more and more reasons.
But here we are singing Alleluia and raising our voices in joyful praise. The image of the emperor fiddling while Rome burned comes to mind, and with it the accusation that we Christians are just so out-of-it that none of these catastrophes seems to matter. Are we indeed the most foolish and naïve people on earth?
The fact is, however, that we must sing, dance and rejoice. Jesus, who was put to death so cruelly to silence his voice forever, is risen from the dead and continues to speak to us his words of challenge, of mercy, and of love. He, of all people, was aware of the great problems and sins of the world; and he volunteered himself to carry those sins to the cross to nail them there, so that we could finally be freed from them – if we look to the cross. Only if we do, can our attitudes change. We must sing of the risen Jesus, because only he can bring us out of the tombs we create for ourselves and lock ourselves in, and only he can free us from the tombs that nature and circumstances beyond our control can put us in.
In his resurrection Jesus turned the world upside down. He brought more heaven to earth than had ever been experienced before in this vale of tears. His risen presence brought so much joy to his disciples that they who before were locked away with fear, now went into the streets and public squares to proclaim the Gospel at the price of their own suffering and death. So overwhelmed were they with the joy of experiencing the love of Jesus that they burst out of their locked room to go to every corner of the world to tell the Good News.
How many people are aching this Easter because they cannot experience the physical Communion with the risen Jesus that brings them so much life and joy? Certainly they can lament the fact of being shut out of the churches, but still they can sing for joy because the risen Jesus, who appeared and disappeared during the forty days after his resurrection, is with us, wherever we are. When Mary Magdalene and the other women, and Peter and John went to the empty tomb, they knew this was not a theft of the body of Jesus. Though they did not see him immediately, they believed. When Jesus did appear, he only did so for a short time, but that short time convinced them of his everlasting love that conquers sickness, sin, and even death itself. So even though most cannot be in the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, he is still very much with you, risen and active in our lives and in the world.
Yes, perhaps we are foolish and naïve for singing Alleluia in the midst of so much suffering in our world. But this foolishness is God’s greatest wisdom, because now that Jesus has conquered death itself, we ultimately have nothing to fear if we put our faith in him. Whether we see him or not, whether we feel his presence at any given moment or not, it is right and just, our duty and our salvation to joyfully sing Alleluia to a world that longs for the Good News.