Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Where is your faith? Do you not believe? Many of us have been questioning our faith and worrying about the reception of the Sacraments since the suspension of the celebration of Mass publicly to honor the sanctity of each person during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faith is the glorious joy of knowing the Lord God without being able to see or touch Him. It can grow deeper day by day or it will shrivel and die, depending upon our attentiveness to the One in whom we commit our faith, our triune God. During the Lenten season, we particularly focused on our faith and our attentiveness to God; to draw near to Him. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic gave some of us a bit of a push to consider our faithfulness and we returned to prayer.
This Easter season, the trials of Lent do not necessarily vanish. Jesus’ suffering on the Cross did not remove temptation or pride or other ‘sins of the flesh’. Our suffering joins with Jesus and He becomes our breath. No longer afraid to proclaim who we are, Easter is the season of hope. We find that hopefulness in the telling of the early Church and we recognize the signs of a community of faith: teaching, fellowship, Communion, and prayer. Awe came upon each one of them as they discovered the richness of their faith by their sharing of all things.
Forgiveness is one of the chief characteristics of the early Christian community. Accepting His breath as our own means that we have embodied His great love and agree to love one another as He loves us. This love is ever present in our ability to forgive, which is born out of faith.
Pope Francis, on Friday, March 28th, asked the world to join him in Evening Prayer in Rome. His message was one of hope. The prayer service began at 6 pm in St. Peter’s Square. It was dark and raining; the Square was empty except one lonely figure walking up the steps. The camera closed in on the person and it was Pope Francis walking alone. He began with a prayer, the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4 was chanted. Pope Francis spoke about the disciples whose faith is shaken in the telling of this Gospel and they ask of Jesus, “Do you not care?!” This phrase, “Do you not care about me?” explains Pope Francis, “wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because He, more than anyone, cares about us. Once the disciples call on Him, He saves them from their fears and discouragement.” He forgives them.
Easter revives our faith. By His Cross we have been saved. By His Cross we have been redeemed. By His Cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us by His redeeming love. We are given this gift of hope. When we are suffering from a lack of tenderness or a chance to meet with each other in person, let us remember the awe of those first Christians, the courage of Peter who proclaimed, the faith of Thomas whose credo is the core of our being, He is risen! He is beside us.
We continue on the journey to seek the Risen Christ still clothed with all our fears and anxieties. Pope Francis reminds us, “Lord you are calling us, calling us to faith.” Faith is not so much believing that God exists; but, coming to God and trusting in God. Let us allow hope to be rekindled.
My sisters and brothers in Christ, let us remember all those who are given to us by God who are caring for us, our medical professionals and first responders, our clergy, our religious, our lay leaders. Know that I pray for each one of you.