My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Bombarded with the news about the spread of the coronavirus we turn to the Lord and after the Psalmist we profess: ‘My deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge.’ That’s why, even if what we are going through at present, and what lies ahead of us, is a mystery to our minds our Christian faith opens our eyes to this mystery as filled with the active presence of God.
The night of the Passover, as we could hear in the First Reading, was filled with the presence of God liberating his people from the exterior slavery they were subjected to.
The night of the Last Supper, as we could hear in our Gospel reading, was filled with the action of the Son of God liberating his disciples, not only those gathered in the Cenacle but also you and me, from our internal slavery to sin and all its consequences. St John wrote: ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.’ What a knowledge it is! To know one’s origins in God and one’s ultimate destination in God too. That’s why it is the knowledge Jesus wants to fill us with. The knowledge which comes to us through faith. This faith is of God’s making. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit which arises and sustains in us the total surrender to God working powerfully in our midst.
When the firstborn of Egyptians were dying the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had become slaves in Egypt, celebrated the Passover meal. The liturgy they held in their homes wasn’t a magical spell to keep the destroyer away. The blood of the pure lamb on their doors wasn’t a talisman protecting them either. In the midst of the plague the descenders of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were reconnecting with God of their ancestors so that they could follow him like their forbears did. What happened before that night was over was a great exodus, heading away from the slavery. However it was also a great eisodus, heading toward the freedom of the children of God. From the midst of the Egyptians plagues the Israelites were heading toward God.
When the conspiracy against Jesus was being finalised Christ celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. However what began in the form of a Passover meal ended as the Eucharist, which Jesus has incorporated in his own great exodus: coming from the Father and his great eisodus: coming to the Father. Therefore he has merged the situation of every generation, marked by sin, suffering and hopelessness, with his own exodus and eisodus. He has drawn us in to the bosom of the Holy Trinity.
My Dear Fellow believers! Not many of us can gather around our church altars this night physically. In some places only bishops, priests and deacons will be present in churches. Still, this Paschal Triduum, which we have begun tonight, is the celebration of us all. The Church is not an organisation, or an institution. The Church is the Body of Christ. We are members of this Body. As I am looking forward to celebrating the great mysteries of our faith, our salvation, our exodus and eisodus in Christ I don’t feel more privileged than you, who cannot come to church. More than ever, I find myself that as a Christian and a priest I will be listening to the Good News for you too. I will receive the Body and Blood of Christ for you too.
Our civil authorities tell us to practice social distancing. However our Lord and Saviour will distribute the blessings of our Sacred Liturgies not only to the few present in our churches but through them, in the mystery of the Holy Spirit, he will distribute those blessing to all of you the members of his Body, the Church. The world maybe in a standstill but the Lord Jesus is not. His saving activity is not subjected to any restrictions.
This year, at the outset of the Paschal Triduum, the sacred Three Days of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we are not simply dispersed or separated from each other. In our families and small gatherings we are called to be sprinklers spread all over the place to provide the influx of hope, faith and charity into the suffering world of 2020.
The Word of the Lord. Amen.
The Gospel of the Lord. Amen.
The Body of Christ. Amen.
The Blood of Christ. Amen.