As we continue through the Easter Season, following the news of our current crisis, it made me think a little more about that first Easter. I know that in our world we’re used to Easter being a great celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and so it should.
Yet, as I think about it, the first Easter didn’t look anything like that at all. All the Apostles, and so many others had been following Jesus for years by the time Good Friday hit. They had put all of their hope in him. By all appearances, the one they had put their hope in had been killed. They had lost. It was time to go back to their regular daily lives and give up on all these fantasies of a new world. I could see the crowds who had gathered to follow him slowly dispersing, returning to their homes with long faces, watching as all the excitement that had been Jesus Christ was slowly fading. They were glad to have known him, he had given them such hope, and all those hopes were dashed. That would’ve been the reality for most people after witnessing Good Friday, in the first days of Easter.
That’s how I picture those first days of the Church. So many of the followers of Jesus were downcast, not sure what to do next, returning to life as normal. Slowly though, word began to spread about the resurrection, just rumors at first, like this weekend’s Gospel, “Some women had astounded us, they were at the tomb and they didn’t find his body, but were saying he was alive.” Nobody was sure what to make of it. Was it a trick? Did someone steal the body? Or was this real? Then, in this Easter season, one after another, we have these appearances of the Risen Lord. First to the women at the tomb, then to the Apostles in the upper room, and today, to these two travelers on their way to Emmaus. I can imagine the stories pouring in, as slowly excitement was building. Something incredible was happening, and one by one, people started to pour in with Good News to share. As they heard the News that Jesus had appeared, resurrected, not as a ghost, but glorified and risen from the dead, it changed the whole world.
Imagine having walked and talked to Jesus, really believing he was God among us and seeing him die. We’d have though the whole world was hopeless, what was the point of anything. Yet, when they saw him risen again, when they realized that all of this was according to God’s plan, I imagine seeing the excitement flowing back into the people in a way that nothing could stop them. When they realized that he was being made present in the breaking of the bread, the very thing that he taught his disciples to do in remembrance of him, they began to understand how even now, just as then, every time we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is right here with us, and if Christ is with us, who can be against us?
I think of that building excitement in the world we’re in right now, and how we need that excitement. The word they chose for the message of Jesus Christ was the word “Evangelium” or in English “Gospel” meaning good news.
Over the last couple weeks, there has been so many scary things in the news, so much fear of this virus, or, on the other hand, so much fear of the effects of the shutdown being used to contain the virus. In light of that, we, as believers in Jesus Christ have the Good News, we need to work together to share that Good News. It was the Good News that first attracted believers to Jesus, and that’s our job today.
Sure, there are sad moments, and I’d like you to keep all the engaged couples who are currently deciding if they should continue to have their wedding in Church with just their immediate family, or if they should postpone their wedding until the fall. They need our prayers, but so far, all of them have said to me, “Don’t worry, we’re getting married in Church, we’ve just got to work together to figure out how to make it happen.” That’s faith.
I’ve been hearing many good things around the area this week. So many are stepping up to the challenge. Our Family Life Office just announced they’re holding a virtual date night series for married couples starting this Sunday. Find more information here. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. I had three different pastors contact me this week looking for input on how to get their Sunday Mass online while we walk through this situation. I just spoke to Fr Thad over at Hastings, and while St Vincent de Paul’s Food Pantry had to change their operations a little bit in this crisis, they’re still open and providing to those in need, preparing to ramp up operations as things get tough. If you’re finding yourself getting in trouble through this crisis, please contact either the SvDP Food Pantry in Hastings, or our own local St Vincent de Paul, you can evenmessage our local St Vincent de Paul on Facebook.
One thing that we are short on here at Prince of Peace though are Mass Intentions. Now that we’re finally getting caught up, we’re going to TEMPORARILY for the rest of 2020 allow up to three masses per family. If your family would like mass said for a loved one, please send us a mass intention. Forms are available on the website. If you would like a specific date, just call Sue at the office.
Overall, I’d like us all to keep in mind how important it is that as a Christian people, we must continue to be a people of the good news. It’s so easy to complain about the terrible things in the world. We as Christians, are called to cling to Jesus Christ, to let our hearts burn within us, and to go out as did the apostles to share the good news with joy!
God Bless You,
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.