Grace Before God – May 2020

If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
1 Peter 2:20

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

What is doing good? During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, doing good means protecting each other from the grave threat of a deadly virus. Doing good means practicing social distancing and staying at home. Doing good means focusing on God and uniting together as His people in the Spirit and prayer. Doing good means caring and protecting human life. Yes, doing good involves suffering through the sacrifices we make in our daily living so that we are able to protect human life.

Personal sacrifices are necessary during this time of the pandemic. The spiritual attitude in which we address what is before us: the uncertainty of the virus, the lack of knowledge about when the pandemic will end, the difficulty in connecting with our families, the immediate need to understand social media and access to it – is as important as the sacrifice itself. We can be resentful for what has been taken away from us. Or, we can do as St. Peter suggests and be patient when we suffer for doing what is good that we might realize a grace before God. We can take our suffering and spread the Good News as St. Peter did after the Resurrection.  We can join Christ to make humanity whole.

What is it about this pandemic that is most frustrating to you?  From the letters, texts, emails I have received from many of you, I find that you are frustrated because you are called to be a pastoral leader, a good shepherd. Your normal ways have been taken from you and you are challenged to bring God into the world without the celebration of Mass or the reception of the Eucharist or the Sacrament of Penance. Your difficulty is that you have become reliant on these practices without realizing the internal spirituality they provide you that you might bring Christ to the world.  You are surprised to be entrusted with the care of God’s people and you are challenged to serve them.

We are not in a ‘freeze frame’ of time. We are in the glorious season of Easter and we must continue to proclaim the Gospel, even if our ability is restricted to the walls of our home. We are redefining the idea of “action” in the vineyard of the Lord. We are the “works of Him who sent me.” Let us be generous, let us help those in need in our neighborhood, let us look out for the lonely by calling them whether it is using the phone, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, Zoom or writing a card to them. Our daily living is measured by love. If you speak with someone, do you speak with God’s love? Pope Francis said, “So, in these holy days, in our homes, let us stand before the Crucified One – the fullest measure of God’s love for us, let us ask for the grace to live in order to serve. May we reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need. May we not be concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others.”

For the Eucharist we long to receive, let us act as the Eucharist we are. Let us flourish the Eucharistic personality of the Church by living our identity with concrete acts of love in the world. Yes, this will require prayer-filled sacrifice. May our goodness be a grace before God.