“..the apostles went back to the upper room; these joined in continuous prayer together with several women..” ..echoes of last Thursday, the feast of the Ascension, when Jesus was taken up to heaven.. & what did they do, having been left/entrusted with the mission to take the good news, the very good news, out to all nations?..they went back to the upper room to resume their lockdown.. & how has your lockdown been since Thursday?..much the same as the last 8wks ?..or different now he has handed over the baton to you, for your leg of the relay of evangelisation ..our “at home” camino.. or are you counting down the days..down the days..until the lockdown finishes & we can open our Church door & “get back to normal”..as one Bishop called it last week.. ..can life & faith ever be the same again ?..
“..Jesus was taken up to heaven..” ..to leave us to get on faithfully.. ;Lord have mercy “..the apostles went back to the upper room”..to how they had left it; nothing had changed ;Christ have mercy “..& they joined in continuous prayer” ..a group of Marys rather than a crew of Martha’s.. ;Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..did you notice that gospel was a sermon not a conversation?..John’s Jesus speaks to the Father as “your Son” not “me”, as if an attempt to certify his own credentials, in front of others, including us, who may be listening..who may be listening..”let him” me “give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him” a distance between them, Jesus stands apart/alone..& then, as if clouds part & a blue sky moment appears..”I have glorified you on earth, & finished the work you sent me to do” you can hear difference, the intimacy, & the bond..the same love personified in Father & Son, same hymn sheet..a somewhat confusing mystifying mixture of 1:1 personal loving relationship, & Jesus being an agent, a go-between..on sidelines/ among crowds & yet importantly an agent of the divine..& isn’t that just a cameo of our life & relationship with & in God?..sometimes 1:1 intimate personal, other times a disciple/ an advocate within the body of believers, a voice/agent of God, a spokesperson or a witness..do you speak of him or do you witness in word & example to having seen him?.. ..it is a poetic liminal moment, a crossing place; “Father, the hour has come..” no time delay, either of postponement or forecast..it is the “now” moment so beloved of Pope Francis..”you are the now of God” he told us in Christus Vivit “to young people & to the entire people of God” to thee & me if we are ever young at heart..”we adults can often be tempted to list all the problems & failings of today’s young people. Perhaps some will find it praiseworthy that we seem so expert in discerning difficulties & dangers, but what would be the result of such an attitude? Greater distance, less closeness, less mutual assistance.” how well, if uncomfortably, words fit in this crucial time of social distancing & when going gets tough in family, in cabin fever or cloister fever, spiritual distancing?.. & then Pope Francis bless him goes intimate/personal with the young, & with those of us who may be listening, who may be listening; “anyone called to be a parent, pastor or guide to young people must have the farsightedness to appreciate the little flame that continues to burn, the fragile reed shaken not broken. The ability to discern pathways where others see only walls, to recognise potential where others see only peril. This is how God the Father sees things; he knows how to cherish & nurture the seeds of goodness sown in the hearts of the young. Each young person’s heart should thus be considered “holy ground” a bearer of seeds of divine life, before which we must “take off our shoes” in order to draw near & enter more deeply in the Mystery.” One of first areas of life to re-open 2wks ago was garden centres; thousands of folk queuing, prim & properly socially distanced, to buy seeds to plant in their gardens; how many of them/us have been sowing far more precious seeds in our families in lockdown, gently exposing hard dry hearts, awaiting a divine gardener to notice to weed to feed to warm to water, & await a “now” moment?..”take off your shoes” pure gift for me to visit someone’s home to find a porch full of shoes..so I take off mine as I enter reverently their holy ground..in these precious days of lockdown & fostering seedlings of new or restored relationship in family, would you ever think of, once a week, taking off your shoes & socks, & in turn one of you from eldest to youngest to wash the feet of the others?..”in order to draw near & enter more deeply into the Mystery” says Pope Francis..into the mystery of the virus.. “perhaps those of us who have a reasonably comfortable life don’t know how to weep. Some realities in life are only seen with eyes cleansed by tears. I would like to ask each of you to ask yourself this question; can I weep? Can I weep when I see a child who is starving, on drugs or on the street, homeless abandoned mistreated or exploited?..or is my weeping only the self-centred whining of those who cry because they want something else? Try to learn to weep for all those less fortunate than yourselves, an expression of mercy & compassion. If tears do not come, as the Lord to give you the grace to weep for the sufferings of others. Once you can weep, then you will be able to help others from the heart.” with such graphic scenes of love & intimacy from inside an ICU ward or care home or a street full of neighbours clapping of a Thurs evening, how can any of us get through a 10pm BBC news bulletin without tears?..”now at last they know..for I have given them the teaching you gave to me. I pray for them, for those you have given me, because they belong to you, & in them I am glorified..they are in the world & I am coming to you” Our Lord signs off, takes off his PPE after 40days in our ICU to return home..to put on his carpet slippers after an Easter season like no other; unprecedented, exhausting, life changing, full of risk tragedy failure & resurrection..”take off your shoes ..you are on holy ground”..their work in PPE, your prayers in your slippers; their efforts to save lives, your efforts to mend relationships on the holy ground of your living rooms..”let him” them, you & me “ give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him” & now to them, you & me..now he has handed on the baton to you for your leg of the relay of evangelisation ..your “at home” camino..key question is “what does the baton look like ?” it’s in the shape of a box of Kleenex tissues..man sized..to wipe the sweat as ever, & now ”now”, for the first time in a lifetime, the tears.. “now at last they know..” [7thSun Easter YrA Jn 17;1-11]