[Reminders about changes: no distribution of the Precious Blood, no contact sign of peace, standard hygiene… most of all, it’s not about your health it’s about our community health.]
It’s not my place to predict what will become of the coronavirus situation. I wish I knew what to prepare you for. I wish the line between precaution and over reaction was a little bit clearer. People are going to die, we just don’t know how many. The hospitals will be slammed, we just don’t know how hard. We don’t know if we will watch this all play out from our homes in the lives of others, or in the lives of our families, or if we are going to be the one sitting in a hospital bed.
I can’t talk to you about the future because I don’t know what the future will be. But I can talk to you about the present. Right now we have fear and anxiety over what is to come, over how easy or hard life is going to be. These feelings were a very real thing for the people around Jesus too, probably much more constant than we experience them. In the first reading the people following Moses were becoming fearful of dying in the desert from thirst. They ask Moses if he brought them there to watch their children die. Imagine if water was something that you didn’t know if you would have access to when you woke up each morning. In the Gospel, Jesus sits down by the well and the Samaritan woman comes out of her home in the noonday sun because the well was the only place to get water. It was an old cistern, dependable… but still, life revolved around that well.
So imagine when Jesus offers living water how much anxiety that would lift from this woman in the ancient world. It doesn’t mean she has one less task in her day, it means she doesn’t have to worry every day of her life about being able to live. Imagine if Jesus offered you a vaccine to the coronavirus and said you don’t have to worry about this anymore. What a relief that would be for us all. But then Jesus keeps going. He says you are worried about a lot of things. The woman was anxious about finding real love in her life. She was waiting for the Messiah to come and explain the world to them. We know about salvation but we still worry too… about love and purpose and God’s plan that we so often don’t understand in the smaller details. Even beyond the current moment with coronavirus, our lives get choked up with anxiety and the unknown.
Jesus tells the woman repeatedly and gently, consider who is sitting in front of you. He tells you and me throughout our whole life of faith, consider who is sitting in front of you. We belong to Christ, who passed from death into the new life of the resurrection. God created us, God gave us his Son to heal us, and God is with us. Jesus called us to a life of discipleship that is not always easy and that in this time of Lent we should seriously examine the ways we have failed… but it is a life where we never have to fear whether God loves us.
So in this time of coronavirus let’s take things seriously. Help to diminish the fears and anxieties of the community by trying to stay more isolated, to slow the spread of the disease and give our hospitals breathing space to care for those who come to them. But know that an even greater fear, the fear of who the God of all creation even is and how he looks at us, has been lifted from our hearts as we look at Christ, hear his Words, and remember what he has done.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.