Peace I Give to You
“Peace be with you.” This is Jesus’ greeting on the first day of the week when he appears to the disciples in the locked room. The nail marks in his hands and the wound in his side from the sword were still there. When the disciples saw them and saw that it was really him, they rejoiced. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace be with you.”
The peace that Jesus offered was neither cheap nor easy. It required faith to overcome locked doors and fearful hearts. Jesus’ resurrected body included the wounds of the crucifixion. The wounds did not disappear but became the basis for the disciples’ recognition.
The peace that we are offered today is neither cheap nor easy. The peace we are offered does not make all of our wounds and fears go away, but makes it possible for us to reach down and claim the faith that assures us that there will be life and flourishing again. Such an important message to hold onto in these pandemic days. In my town of Natick which is right next to Wellesley, at least 9 residents of a local nursing home have died and 75 have tested positive for COVid19. Thirty-six of the staff have tested positive. It is now personal for me as I watch the parents, grandparents and friends of Natick folks suffer and even die.
This is happening all over the country with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, prisons, homes for the developmentally disabled and so forth. The Boston Globe printed 16 pages of death notices. Loved ones are being buried without their families and friends able to participate in services and mourning rituals.
We are all staying-at-home and some of us are getting impatient. But we need to be careful about not opening prematurely when it may not be safe especially for our vulnerable. As you know, our Babson community depends on science and data and the keen intelligence and creativity that foster entrepreneurship. “Peace be with you.” Reach deep inside you and claim the peace that is neither cheap nor convenient. Our lives going forward will show the marks of this pandemic, but there will be life and flourishing again.
Easter is the foundation of Christianity. Christmas makes no sense without it and Christian Scriptures are all written from the perspective of the risen Christ who even descended into hell. The point is that there is no suffering that human beings experience alone. Death does not have the final answer. To capture the idea of new life, Easter is celebrated in the spring during the first full moon after the spring equinox which is March 21st.
Palm Sunday which this year is Sunday, April 5th, marks the beginning of Holy Week, the culmination of 40 days of Lent. The week begins with where it will end on Good Friday with the reading of the passion and crucifixion. The Easter Triduum begins on Holy Thursday which is a celebration of the Last Supper. Catholics recognize this day as a celebration of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Christian services include a foot washing to symbolize Jesus’ service to others. Good Friday is a solemn remembrance of the crucifixion. “Greater love has no person that they lay down their life for others.” Catholics fast and abstain from meat trying to spend the day quietly in prayer. The celebration of Easter begins with the lighting of the fire on Saturday evening and the service contains many readings from both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that capture central aspects of Christian Faith. This is a time when the Church welcomes new members and confers on them Sacraments such as Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Without the Resurrection, there is no Christianity.
Even the Covid19 pandemic and shuttered churches cannot quell the celebration of Easter, a celebration of hope and the ways in which life triumphs over death. Masses and services will be live-streamed and celebrated all over the world. Links to online celebrations will be provided to the Babson community and online reflections will be made available throughout Holy Week. Members of the Babson Community are welcome to contact me for resources and ideas on how to celebrate.
For me, like all of you, this will be an Easter unlike any other as we live confined to our homes unable to attend in real time any services or dinners with friends and extended families. Our BOCA leaders planned a Common Ground Easter dinner following our Easter Mass at Glavin Family Chapel and none of that will happen as you now struggle with online classes and maintaining connections with your classmates. Perhaps, you feel sad or lonely or disappointed or even angry. I understand.
I am trying to muster up the many delightful memories Easter holds for me—joyous Masses with choirs and brass and string instruments, delicious family dinners, childhood Easter Baskets complete with new Stride Rite dress shoes from the factory where my uncle worked. I have had sad Easters before too like the one my mother spent in the hospital in diminishing health, her last Easter. We brought Easter dinner to the hospital, but my mother was too sick to enjoy it. We had always watched the Pope’s midnight Mass together. I watched it alone that year and have watched it alone many years since.
What I have learned is that Easter comes anyway, no matter what our circumstances there is no pain or loneliness or fear that we experience alone as God has embraced even crucifixion. Nothing human is alien to God. I hope you will find ways to discover and embrace this Easter message. Love is stronger than death and this pandemic.