Waiting in Joyful hope: from Easter to Pentecost Br Michael Moore OMI
Waiting in Joyful hope: from Easter to Pentecost
A Reflection by Br Michael Moore for our current time during this Coronavirus Pandemic
It goes without saying that we all had a very strange and unusual Easter. We didn’t do the usual things we always did; we didn’t visit our friends and family, we didn’t go away over the Easter weekend and sadly we were not able go to our local church to celebrate the Resurrection with our parish community. There definitely was something missing from our Easter this year! Perhaps we experienced sadness, confusion, anxiety and even anger. I suggest that we are not going through anything now that the first friends and followers of Jesus didn’t also experience after watching their friend die and being buried. They experienced betrayal, denial and apparent failure after all they had known and hoped for was taken from them suddenly and violently. They found themselves in a completely new and unknown world. All their hopes and expectations had been shattered. As the two on the road to Emmaus said, ‘We had hoped that he (Jesus) would have been the one to set Israel free.’
The readings of the Easter Vigil told us that God led the People of Israel out of slavery into freedom. It was a real and physical ‘exodus’. The readings for the whole of the Easter Season continue to tell us of a journey that takes and leads us not only on a physical road, but on also to a spiritual place of hope and new life because Jesus rose from the dead.
The gospels from Easter to Pentecost describe the appearances that the Risen Jesus made to his followers after the Resurrection. A theme running through all these appearances is that they were unsure, worried, anxious and full of doubt. How could they not be after experiencing the tragedy of the crucifixion? Each time Jesus appears to them he acknowledges these doubts, fears and anxiety, but he does not condemn them. He also acknowledges the reality of the crucifixion by showing them the wounds in his hands and side. As he does this, he also strengthens and encourages them with these words, ‘Peace be with you, do not be afraid.’ He stands with and amongst them in their anxiety and confusion.
‘Peace be with you, do not be afraid.’
Given what we are all experiencing, let us pray that we each have in some way or another experienced the resurrection, but we have not yet arrived at Pentecost. As we do our best to deal with the impact that the Coronavirus is having on our daily lives, we too maybe feeling sad, confused, afraid and anxious, even angry. As we have learnt from the disciples and apostles, it can be difficult to believe that our daily lives will be transformed; that we will get through this time of uncertainty and anxiety. We too are waiting for better and happier days just as they were. Do we and can we have sense that the Risen Jesus is standing with and amongst us saying, ‘Peace be with you, do not be afraid.’ Presently we are waiting for Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and some signs of good news and breakthrough with the impact of the virus. We are too wating and hoping; we are wating in joyful hope. If the Resurrection this year offers us anything is this; new life, goodness and hope will prevail, we will get through this and these difficult and painful days will pass. Afterwards, our daily lives won’t be the same, but on coming out the other side, it is possible that we will have learnt the most basic of profound truths and be able to move on with our lives.
At the first Pentecost the followers of Jesus had their sadness turned to joy, their weaknesses turned to strength and their fear transformed into courage. Eventually, and in time, the same will happen to each of us – if we can wait and live in joyful hope. Through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we too will be renewed, refreshed and restored. We all know that waiting can be difficult, especially, when we are living with such anxiety and uncertainty. As Christians, we are called to be people of hope. These days, now more than ever, we are being called not lose hope in ourselves, each other or God. We are being called to live in joyful hope during this Easter Season, perhaps in ways we have never been asked before.
As Christians, we are called to be people of hope.
What does it mean to be a person of patient hope? Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) a Dutch priest and writer offers us some words of wisdom on what it means to be a person who waits;
A waiting person is a patient. The word ‘patience’ means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will be shown to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go there. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing in her womb. (The Path of Waiting)
Wherever we are living these days, there is very little activity and we are all self-isolating. Our normal daily lives, routines and work have been put on hold. We are discovering and experiencing a new ‘normal’. We are being called to wait patiently, but with hope. As we wait for Pentecost Sunday, let us do all we can to keep our spirits and thoughts as positive as possible. We are not alone – Jesus stands beside our side and says to each us, ‘Peace be with you, do not be afraid.’
|Br Michael Moore OMI is an Oblate brother from Inchicore who is currently serving in West Kilburn and is part of the Oblate Partners in Mission Team.|
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