My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Pope Francis in his message for World Youth Day 2020 said, if “you have lost your vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism and your generosity,” there is still hope and that hope is “Jesus who stands before you.” Here we are standing with our Lord as he walks the streets of Jerusalem, for He has finally arrived. Are we rejoicing and offering our hosannas? Or have we already passed Him by and have lost our enthusiasm, optimism and generosity? Even if we are greeting Him with our hosannas now, will that joy quickly fade as we identify other needs or wants and look to blame?
True, our perspective recently has been greatly influenced by COVID-19. I could imagine how Jesus felt as I and my staff were being barraged by those who wanted me to suspend the celebration of Mass and almost immediately when the bishops of Florida made the decision to suspend the celebration of Mass, I and my staff were again barraged by those who wanted to dispense the suspension. I readily admit that the language we received on both sides was disrespectful and difficult. It was more than once that I was called ‘stupid’ for whatever lack the individual experienced. When times of uncertainty occur, it is easy to see how the faithful can abandon God.
Where is God’s voice as we experience the pandemic caused by COVID-19? Why are we here at this moment in time and how are we called to spread the Gospel? How are we called to holiness? This Lenten season, we are asked to open ourselves up to God’s dream for us who are born to be loved. Pope Francis said that our Lenten journey could be about passing “from dust to life,” that is, “letting God gaze upon us with love and in this way change our lives.” Jesus offers us His heart so that we can give it with our own to the Father, and to those the Father puts into our lives.
Who is in our life and how are we loving them this Lenten season? The COVID-19 pandemic took away some of our freedom; the traditional way that we worship, the ability to hug each other, the opportunity to visit each other, and even the way that we play together. It did not take away our ability to love as God loves and to bring that love to each other. Jesus’ mandate to love one another as I have loved you rings truer during this Lenten season as we arrive in Jerusalem with our hosannas and then walk the steps to the Cross where Jesus is crucified. His words are more profound as we have also suffered in a way we have never experienced before.
Pope Francis reveals his formula to convert dust into life, “You may ask: ‘How can I trust? The world is falling to pieces, fear is growing, there is so much malice all around us…’ Don’t you believe that God can transform our dust into glory? The love we share – in our families, at work, in the Church and in the world – will save us, for it will endure forever.”
My good people, our God is all merciful and kind, full of forgiveness. Forgive each other. Love one another as God has loved us. Embody this love and for every word you speak, speak His kindness. Breathe this love and for every deed, offer it to God. Live this love and you will be transformed to glory.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.