Easter at St. Patrick Church (a few years ago)
I can only imagine how desperate the situation must have seemed to His apostles as Jesus was experiencing His brutal passion and death. To see your spiritual leader, the one whom you believed was the long-awaited messiah, suffer and die like a common criminal had to be devastating. We know most of them fled and went into hiding. Peter was so terrified that he denied the Lord three times, as Jesus had predicted. What do we do now? Where do we go from here?
Yes, there were a few who remained faithful and by the cross until the bitter end: Mary Magdalene, the Beloved Disciple John and Jesus’ own Mother Mary. How great must have been the emotional pain that they felt as they helplessly watched His suffering up close. Seeing every last breath coming from a beaten, broken body had to be stamped like a branding iron into their memories. How could this possibly happen?
Salvation and the forgiveness of sin came with a price: the suffering and death of the Son of God. Holy Week recalls these events. The crucifix in our churches (and homes) reminds us of the greatest act of sacrificial love. But the story does not end here.
Resurrection and new life followed. Jesus conquered sin and death. The grave was not His final resting place. He is alive!
With all of the suffering and death continuing throughout our world, we need to preach this message loud and clear: Jesus is our salvation. He brings us hope in every situation, no matter how desperate.
I realize how unusual these times are for all of us. Closed churches, sacraments being limited, Holy Week and Easter services on TV or through the internet are unprecedented occurrences. Despite it all, God is still in charge. He allows this to happen for a reason, which I suspect is an urgent plea for us to return to Him with all our being. We cannot exist at all without His Divine Assistance.
What do we do now? Where do we go from here? Do we seek resurrection and new life for ourselves and our loved ones? Do we want to find hope in any desperate situation, even during a coronavirus pandemic? Jesus is our salvation. There is no other way.
I continue to hope and to pray. Easter gives renewed hope to all Christians as we realize Christ is alive! He is Risen! Death has no more power over Him. Although it may seem, at times, that the season of Lent continues in our lives and that Good Friday has not yet ended, trust in Jesus. Stand by Him at the foot of the cross. Resurrection and new life will come.
On behalf of my brother priests, I assure you of our continued prayers and Masses for your health and well-being. Please pray for us. We appreciate all of the kindness and love shown to us.
I may not have all the answers to what lies ahead but I certainly know Who does: Jesus, Our Risen Lord!
Fr. Ed Namiotka