Can’t you just wait to get back to normal? I wish I had a dime for every time I have heard this over the last few weeks. But, do we really want to get back to “normal”? Did Mary of Magdala and the apostles go back to normal? Absolutely not. The reality is that there will be a new normal; our world is forever changed.
Over the last few weeks, I realized that we as a church cannot go back to “normal”. The Easter mystery is not static nor can the Church settle for the status quo. If we are to be the living and Risen Body of Jesus, then we need to be growing and changing. Jesus can breath new life into our world through us if we allow him to. It is a real possibility that the new life of the empty tomb is the new life that the Church can bring into the world. We will indeed rise from the issues of this world; but our resurrection cannot be to the old way of doing things.
Over the last 20 or more years, we have talked about the new evangelization: a new way to preach the Gospel. Over the last three weeks, we have jumped into the new evangelization and I think more people are hearing the Good News of the Resurrection than before. We have seen a restoration to faith formation happening at home where it really needs to be. The reality of the domestic church where God is worshiped at home as well as in church is reinforced.
The role of the Church is exemplified in Mary of Magadala. She went to the tomb and found Jesus. How did she know him? She knew him because she had a relationship with him. He was not a doctrine learned in a book to get a sacrament or cultural ritual; Mary knew him as friend, as Master and as Lord. As we have all been forced to slow down, now is the time to get to know the Lord. Mary went looking for him; so must we. The Church is to proclaim the message to all that Jesus is risen. However, to really know the Risen Lord in our lives, to meet him in the sacraments, or see Him in our mission is to have a relationship with Him. Mary of Magdala was filled with joy at meeting her Lord; the Church must also be the vehicle of joy and hope to the world. To be an Easter people, we each must know and accept Jesus as Lord and Master, just like Mary.
Do I miss seeing you all every week? Of course. However, I am taking this crisis as a wake up call for you and me. Today’s Easter moment is rising from the apathy we have fallen into regarding faith and God. Every time I receive the Risen Lord in the Eucharist, my prayer is that the hunger for him in your hearts grows. I am hoping that the reality that the fact we had to postpone weddings and funeral Masses, postpone baptisms, observe concrete restrictions for Confession and the Anointing has made everyone realize what the world would have been like if Mary and the other women just went home and didn’t tell anyone about the Risen One. The Church is not a connivence; it is a way of life!
Personally, I don’t want the old “normal” back. I don’t think it was all that great. If we really believe in the Easter feast and that Jesus rose from the dead, then you won’t want to go back either. The Risen Christ will transform our Church and I would rather be transformed and go forward with him, then remain in what was. If Jesus could take a group of scared men and women and transform them into fearless preachers of the Gospel, then think about what he could do with us, a group of scared men and women, today. Easter is about new life; not the old “normal”. Easter is about being a new Church, truly reborn of water and the Spirit. Easter is about having a mission: to tell everyone about Jesus who we know so well. My prayer is that this will be the community we grow into now; there is no need to wait.
Christ is risen….let our Church rise to a new life and not look back. Let us rise from the dead of what was and be reborn into who we truly are today: the wounded and risen Body of Christ