If ever someone comes bringing to us their long-drawn problems or challenges in daily life, there is a high probability that one might say, ‘Don’t worry… there will surely be a light at the end of the tunnel.’ This is true for many of us, after this period of being physically away from the Church, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting brighter. For us, that light is none other than Jesus Christ.
As our churches slowly begin to open her doors, without being too complacent, one can say there is a greater sense of certitude and hope that this pandemic is slowly passing away. It makes one realise how we may have taken for granted many things that we have become accustomed to in life, including going to Mass. As some of our parishes begin to welcome back her parishioners to Mass this Sunday, let us be thankful for the gift of the Eucharist that Jesus left for us ‘in memory’ of Him.
The second reading today from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, speaks about how in baptism we are raised to new life in Christ. In other words, by our baptism, we die to sin and are raised to a new realm in the person of Jesus Christ. All this may sound too theological but broken down, it simply means that there is a new beginning in Christ through baptism. It is as if our lives have been reset by the waters of baptism.
Coming back to Church in the pandemic recovery period is a new beginning, a reset. This simply means that we cannot just want to go back to our old ways, but this new beginning also means new pathways and brighter horizons. As Pope Francis has called on the Church to be innovative, we must set out minds to new pathways for innovation not just for ourselves but also for the growth of the Church.
The gospel today puts before us daunting challenges as to the mission of Christ for the disciples. A cursory reading of today’s gospel makes it almost impossible to follow Christ but a deeper reflection points to us the intensity that is needed to follow Christ. The extreme measures as described in the gospel today points to the need for total commitment a disciple needs to follow Christ. There can be no half-heartedness or even a lukewarm following of Jesus.
The coming back to the Church is not merely for the ritual of the Holy Mass but it has to be for a deeper and committed following of Jesus which is expressed through the mission of the Church. There will still be some among us for one reason or another will be unable to return to Church for Mass. Let us be compassionate in understanding their pain, anger, and frustration and find “new ways” to embrace them in the fold of our parish community, not with half-heartedness or in a lukewarm manner but warmly and wholeheartedly so that they too will receive the warmth and generosity of Christ in their hearts. Amen.