Notes from Deacon Mike
Season One of the Corona Virus (Covid-19)
The Third Sunday of Easter
The Gospel of St. Luke 24:13-35
I am calling this “Notes from Deacon Mike” because it is not a homily though I may talk a little bit about this Sunday’s Gospel from St. Luke for The Third Week of Easter. It is commonly referred to as The Road to Emmaus gospel. And it is only found in St. Luke’s gospel. It has been a while and I really just want to stay in touch with all of you, tell you what I am seeing during this difficult time and to let you know that Sarah and I miss being with you at church, Mass and other parish functions.
We, like most of you, are in what I call a lockdown. Just like the 11 disciples (because Judas Iscariot was a betrayer and no longer there) were in lockdown in this weekend’s Gospel. The Jewish leaders had just put Jesus to death so the disciples were hiding in fear that they might also be put to death because they were followers of Jesus. Today we are afraid to go out because of our justifiable fear of the Coronavirus. It is a new, unseen and potentially deadly enemy for which no vaccine has yet been discovered. We have been told not to go out and conduct our lives in our usual manner. Many of us are working from, and staying, at home. We go out for the essentials like groceries, medicine, doctor’s visits or work for those with jobs that cannot ‘telecommute’. We are wearing masks and gloves wherever we go and we look at people with some trepidation. Maybe they are an unknown asymptomatic carrier of the disease? The Apostles were, as we are, self-isolating from other people out of fear.
One of the primary tenets of our Catholic faith is to be the hands and feet of Christ here on earth. That seems awfully difficult in these current times but so were the challenges the Apostles faced. All of us have been tasked with the same instructions from Jesus- “to go forth and make disciples of ALL nations.”(MT 28:19-20). The Apostles do that starting on the Feast of the Pentecost coming up Sunday May 31. We are seeing it all around our country and, presumably, around the world today. There are a lot of little actions, as well as some big ones, being done that show compassion and love for one another. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love Him and the next greatest commandment is to love one another.
We are seeing families having dinner together at home, not in restaurants, and without electronic devices at their fingertips. They are talking with each other more. They are praying together. Maybe they are just saying grace and giving thanks that there is food on the table but God hears them. He hears all our prayers. And that is just a beginning. Moms and Dads have developed a deeper appreciation for their children’s teachers. They have become the aides to those teachers as they try to keep their children progressing in their education. The children are missing school. What child would have thought they would ever miss school? But they miss their teachers and they miss their classmates. It is almost like missing and participating in Mass every Sunday. We miss the liturgy and we miss the reception of the Sacraments, especially Holy Communion which is the source and summit of our faith. I mentioned in my notes from Deacon Mike (untitled chapter 1) a few weeks ago that we never quite know what we have until we cannot have it. Then we miss it. That is how we all feel today for the things we cannot do. And we are longing to go back to our comfort zones of work, school and church. We will get there at the right, and safe, time. Not before because we want to minimize any further recurrence of this virus.
Those are the big things that we are all seeing but there are a lot of little things being done to spread cheer in a time like this. In our neighborhood some of us have put up Christmas lights. Everyone recognizes that Christmas is a time of joy. This display is to spread some joy to others but especially to children who are so uncertain of what this all means. They just know life has been turned upside down on them. People are putting teddy bears in windows for children, out walking with their parents, to count and see who could find the most. Well, our local waste collectors took that a step further. On the rear driver’s side of the truck, where someone would normally stand and hold on, there is a big 5 or 6 ft. brown teddy bear strapped in for safety. The children love spotting the bear. Those workers, who have to brave the virus, are out doing their job but are spreading messages of kindness to others.
We cannot go out to eat now. This has caused hardships especially on small local restaurants and their employees. Many of them are trying to survive on just takeout and delivery orders. The employees of one local restaurant in Memphis are putting cheery handwritten notes on all their takeout containers. Customers utilizing the many restaurant curbside takeout options are often tipping greater to show their support for the employee. Drivers doing drop offs of groceries, food, or any other item that can be delivered to your home so that you do not have to go out, are being tipped in appreciation for their service. Many of the drivers are doing it because they have been laid off and have to support themselves or their family. Regardless of their motive, it is a job that places them in higher risk and probably not their first choice. However, they are filling a need at this time when many people will not go out because of the virus or other health reasons.
There are so many things being done it is impossible to mention them all. We just have to open our hearts, minds and soul to see them. The two disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus in this Sunday’s gospel were joined by Jesus. They were Jesus’ disciples and had fled Jerusalem after Jesus’ death and resurrection. They were afraid. They did not recognize Jesus when He joined them even though they knew Him. So the two disciples told Jesus all that had happened to Him in Jerusalem. It was only when they sat for dinner with Jesus and He broke the bread for them that their eyes (really their heart, mind and soul) opened up and they recognized their companion as Jesus. But by then He was gone. So do not feel bad if we have not recognized Jesus in our actions or the actions of others. Look at the actions of others helping people during this pandemic and you will see Jesus Christ. He is with us as we go through this and He will not abandon us.
We often hear in church that we do not know when the hour or day will come when we are called to join Him so we must always be prepared. This virus struck with little forewarning, no countermeasures and has had devastating effects. We should take advantage of the services currently being offered in ‘drive-by’ fashion, whether it be confession or blessings, until we can go back into the church. I am looking forward to that day and until then stay safe and stay home, show God’s love to each other. Go to virtual Mass every Sunday and put 2 lit candles and a crucifix in front of the TV making it an altar for the celebration.
May our Almighty loving and eternal God Bless you and keep you, your families and loved ones safe. Until we all meet again at 203 So. White Station Rd.,