From our Parish FOCUS Missionary, Joseph Gruber…
Greetings, fellow parishioners!
“Repent, and be baptized!” Peter cries out on Pentecost. For seven weeks, the people of Jerusalem have been living life without Jesus around. He was a wonder-worker, a preacher, a teacher like no other, and he was put to death 50 days or so ago.
Most people had gone on with their lives. The apostles, the disciples—the ones who were hurt the most by Jesus’ loss on Good Friday—they saw His resurrected body again and again for 40 days. But everyone else? He didn’t appear to them. So they moved on. And we can’t blame them too much for that. If Jesus wasn’t a big part of their lives while He was walking the earth, why would they make Him a big part of their lives when He was gone? If the followers of Jesus had panicked and abandoned their rabbi, their master, their lord, why would the people who were merely interested in Jesus be true to Him? Why would they trust the leadership structure that Jesus had put into place when it did nothing to bring Jesus physically into their lives, even though that authority structure had access to Him that whole time?
I think there may be fears that, when public Masses are restored and Jesus in His glorified presence in the Eucharist is available to all who care to come, many people will have moved on with their lives. “How powerful could Jesus be, if I’ve been left alone this whole time?” some may be thinking. “Where was Jesus when such suffering entered my life?” and even, “Can Jesus be better than binge-watching The Office on Netflix for the thirteenth time?” But Pentecost puts those fears to rest. For those who seek the resurrected Lord wherever He may be found—in spiritual communions, in Scripture, in their neighbor, in the poor, in creation, and in the constant dialogue with Him that is the interior life—the end of the stay-at-home order may well come with it a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is our chance to be with Mary, to sit with her and learn from her about what a fruitful union with God looks like. This is our chance to be like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and comb through the stories of salvation history with Jesus and to see Jesus in all of them. This is our chance to get our story straight—Jesus lives, and that means we need to live differently.
I can’t predict what God will do, or pretend that I understand the mind of God. But I would not be surprised if this will be a moment for our generation to be met with the same cry as Peter’s two thousand years ago. “Repent and be baptized!” I pray that the cry will be met with the same response. And I pray that in the meanwhile those reading these words will stay close to our risen Lord, so we can invite others when next we see them into the life of the Church: founded on the teaching of the apostles, the breaking of the bread, the fellowship, and the prayer that define our life with Jesus.