A reflection on the Sunday Readings

Homily for Passion Sunday
April 5, 2020
What a strange journey we’ve been on! And it appears the journey is going to continue for some time!
We try to pretend everything is “normal” yet we know it’s not!
These are the thoughts I had as I read Matthew’s version of the Passion of the Christ.
Everything seems normal for the apostles. They’ve been roaming the countryside, watching Jesus heal the blind, deaf and lame. He even raised His friend Lazarus from the dead!
His teachings on how to live life have been profound and a radical departure from anything they had previously learned from their forefathers.
With the exception of the Scribes and Pharisees, they’ve enjoyed the adulation of the crowds who’ve followed them throughout the countryside for almost three years.
In five short days their lives will be shattered and forever changed!
Their Master and Friend tells them they are all going to scatter and leave Him alone!
Peter says, no, he won’t leave!
Jesus tells him that not only will he leave, he will deny Him three times before the cock crows!
Peter again affirms that he will stay with Jesus forever!
Then the rest of the story unfolds and Jesus’ prophesy is fulfilled!
They all run for their lives (except John)!
Peter denies Him three times, just as Jesus predicted, and then he leaves the courtyard weeping bitterly, just after the cock crows.
Jesus is left alone to defend Himself against the evil which is coming.
As I look out over our empty church the feeling of being alone is almost overwhelming.
Sitting at home for the past month, the feeling of being isolated has become a very real part of my life. Nancy is with me and we speak to our children, using a video link, almost every day, but, the feeling of isolation, of being cut off, is very strong!
My head understands that it’s for my own protection and good, but, it’s hard to shake the feelings of abandonment and being alone.
I wonder how many of us feel the same way.
We can’t come to Holy Mass or celebrate any of the sacraments publically.
Churches are locked and dark!
Does it feel like we’ve been abandoned by our church because we can’t gather together and do the things we usually do!
I feel blessed that I can watch Holy Mass every day and hear words of wisdom and comfort from priests I respect and enjoy, but, it’s not the same as being here.
There is a line in this gospel which gives me hope in these trying times.
“But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
The apostles don’t even hear the words Jesus speaks.
They’re focussed on the prediction of their desertion and caught up in the denial of the truth Jesus has spoken.
They’re full of bravado and thoughts of how strong they think their belief in Jesus is.
They don’t realize that the events which are about to unfold are part of a larger plan.
They don’t realize that Jesus must go through this time of suffering to get to the other side, which is eternity in heaven with His Father.
They don’t realize that this is what Jesus must do to restore communion between man and God.
They don’t realize that Jesus isn’t going to abandon them, He will be with them always.

These past few weeks have challenged us greatly!
Some may be overwhelmed by a sense of being abandoned by everyone, including God!
Almost all of us have a sense that something isn’t quite right. We feel isolated and alone.
During this time of forced isolation we have a tremendous opportunity to focus on the words:
“But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
We have an opportunity to sit quietly with our bible, or favourite prayer book or just ourselves.
This is the time we can get re-acquainted with our God, re-acquainted with Jesus.
The excuse of being too busy has been taken away from us.
This is the time to re-invigorate our prayer lives.
God has an amazing plan for our lives!
We need to take advantage of this down time to let Him tell us what it is so that we can put it into action now!
Our God is a community: Father, Son and Spirit!
Our church is a community: clergy and laity.
Our worship is about being in community.
There’s one more community, and it’s been part of our church from the very beginning; the home community or home church.
We first hear of it in the Passion narratives in each of the gospels:
Jesus gathers with the twelve for the Passover celebration.
We hear of it at Pentecost:
They were gathered in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended.
We read about them in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of St. Paul.
Today we are home churches, separated by distance, but joined together in prayer.
We pray for ourselves, that we will receive the grace we need to weather this current storm!
We pray that God will wrap his loving arms around those who need it most and assure them that He is near!
We pray that God will be with us as we journey, during this holiest of weeks with Jesus, on this road to our salvation.
And we pray that on Easter Sunday morning we will hear the cock crowing signifying the return of light into our darkened world!
May God Bless You!

Deacon Neil Devereaux