April 26, 2020 – Third Sunday of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042620.cfm)
Perhaps the most sensible and wise advice I could give to myself and others at this time, as we grapple with the question: “Can I still live the life I left-behind?”
It is almost a month now that we find ourselves on lockdown and quarantine due to COVID-19 pandemic. Ours now is a strange life. Almost abruptly, our normal lives had to shutdown for with the pandemic in our midst, our whole world is now rendered unhealthy, unusual, and unsafe. Our human race is under threat of disease, sickness and even death. Our lives will never be the same and as usual again. Worrisome as it is and maybe, we are confronted now with the question: “What now? What’s next? How will it be? How can we be? Will life be the same again or much better (or even worse) than before?” Whether we like it or not, we cannot help but adjust and discover new meanings in our changing world today.
Somehow our gospel today mirrors and perhaps offers us some lessons as we lived by with our experience of our changing world today.
Two disciples were on their way back home – tired and weary souls, beaten in life, since their promised Messiah whom they followed ever since was now dead and gone. They had to socially distance, quarantine, lockdown themselves in hiding from others, since all now are suspects and symptomatic. They were hopeless, directionless, and in despair with life. But along the way, the risen Lord, though unrecognized, joined and journeyed with them on the road. They shared to Him their current life-story, and they also listened to His story. They invited Him into their own home for the night, and had meal with Him together. And eventually they recognized Him who was all along on the road and in life with them.
Their experiences with life and with the Risen Lord along the road to Emmaus might post us some challenges & pointers now as we manage our lives in COVID-19 era.
First, RECOGNIZE IMMANUEL. Always be sensitive and believe that the Lord is with us. The risen Lord is the Immanuel – the God with us, who lives in us. This the Gospel of the Lord – the good news of our salvation, even since before, until now and always. He is with us, here all along, along the way, on journey with our lives whatever, whenever, and however it is. And we have yet to recognize Him always.
Second, INVITE HIM INTO OUR LIVES. Just as the two disciples invited Him, we too should call upon Him and say: “STAY WITH US, LORD”. Good News to us as He is, the Lord still needs our responsibility (our ability to respond to Him). He still needs our consent to Him, our acceptance and recognition of Him, our faith in Him and our relationship/collaboration with Him by inviting Him IN.
Third, ALLOW HIM TO DO HIS WORK IN US. Give Him and ourselves a chance to take care, protect and heal us. Along with Him, time now to treat our chronic spiritual disease, improve our spiritual hygiene and boost your spiritual immune system, and to tend now our tired and weary souls. In prayer and contemplation, share our story of faith-life journey to Him and allow His story be part of our story. Have a meal-time and date with Him in Eucharistic Communion (when possible). And let him disappear once in awhile, (not to be so attached), for He also needs to be with those who needed Him most.
But above all, ADVISE YOURSELF AND OTHERS: “Please be PATIENT. GOD is not finished with me and you YET”, since, though His last words on the cross is “It is finished”, Jesus did not say, “I am finished”, but rather He is just getting started. Our risen Lord Jesus has yet more and better great things to do, and more miracles yet to show us in life. So, be patient for God is yet unfinished with us.
May we have a blessed Easter now and always despite (and even with) the pandemic in our midst. Amen.
(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)