Sunday Scripture readings, April 26, 2020: A time of preparation
Third Sunday of Easter
1) Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
2) 1 Pt 1:17-21
Gospel: Lk 24:13-35
I write four weeks before you read. Sometimes this makes a difference. Last time I wrote, it was thoughts on Easter. I concluded with a mention of the liturgy, in which we meet the risen Jesus. The day after I sent the meditation to the publisher, social distancing began in earnest, and soon it was clear than none of us was going to be celebrating the liturgy at Easter.
This has been a reminder to me of how unknowable the future is. And haven't the whole past couple of months been a massive reminder of that to all of us? In February, who could have foreseen the coronavirus' global impact?
The virus has been a brutal reminder of our fragility also. How microscopically little it takes to bring many human lives to an end.
Every year we have a season of preparation for the celebration of Jesus' death and resurrection. Lent is our six-week retreat in place, when we work to turn our thoughts to Jesus' saving act and its meaning for us.
This year, Lent was overtaken by a different season, a season of confronting death. For months we have been standing together in the face of it, doing the various things that we can to flatten the curve of its expansion.
For some, this has meant risking life to save life. For many of us, all we have been able to do is stop doing what we were doing and suffer the consequences. Some of us have been bereaved of those we love.
In a strange way, this time of coronavirus has also been a season of preparation, a kind of grim, imposed Lent. For what except awareness of the uncertainty of all our plans, of our vulnerability to sickness and of the inevitability of death can enable us to really grasp the meaning of Jesus' death and resurrection?
As it extends on into the Easter season, COVID-19 continues to ready us to hear the Easter message. Resurrection is the theme of all three of today's readings.
To us, in our imposed preparation, St. Peter declares, "God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses." He tells us that this happened "in the final time for you."
God "raised him from the dead and gave him glory," St. Peter says, "so that your faith and hope are in God."
- - -
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the "Six Weeks With the Bible" series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.