Sunday is coming
Life can be scary at times. Everything from fender benders, to waiting for grades to be posted, from waiting in line for confession, to yearly evaluations, from your child getting a driver license, to serious illness and especially you or a loved one being close to death. The COVID-19 pandemic has also been a scary time for the world. But in the middle of all this fear is the Man who is God saying, “Come, follow me.”
Follow me into the pain and suffering, follow me into death, and most importantly, follow me into the resurrection. St. Paul says: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) Yet, even armed with this knowledge very often we still are awash in fear.
For many, it is the fear of the unknown that is the most insidious. Not knowing what is actually going to happen in the future can be crippling. Fear and anxiety can impact us all, whether it originates from something as huge as a global pandemic, or as commonplace as worrying about being accepted at work or school.
Our faith can be an anchor in the midst of all these storms. The knowledge that our Savior has not only weathered His own storms, but triumphed over them, should be reason for hope and this hope can carry us to calmer seas.
The power of resurrection cannot be overlooked or undervalued. St. Paul puts it this way: “And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Thus, the victory over the grave is essential to our lived faith; it can give us a “new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
In a very real and sobering way, death is the doorway we are all headed towards. In fact, for many of us some loved ones have already gone through that door. These experiences bring a mix of emotions. Of course, there are tears and sadness at the loss of loved ones. Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. But first with Lazarus and then with Himself, Jesus has unlocked the door and unleashed the power of the resurrection.
The death that looked like the end became the ultimate genesis of a new understanding of pain, fear, suffering, and death, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us. “The Christian meaning of death is revealed in the light of the Paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ in whom resides our only hope. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus is ‘away from the body and at home with the Lord’” (1681).
Years ago, I read a pithy quote from author Michael Pritchard: “Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.” While that is true, it is also true is that hope is the light illuminating the pathway out of darkness all the way to the brightness of heaven.
We are a people grounded in the resurrection, powered by the Man who is God and who is also the manifestation of the Father’s love for us. It is the theological virtue of hope that ties all of this together. “By hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1843).
My experience teaches me that God has the power to step into time and space and perform miracles. But my experience also teaches me that this is not the norm. What is more typical is that Jesus is asleep in the boat of our lives as we are being tossed around by the waves of our troubles, and His message to us is “peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
Jesus knows all about the Good Fridays of life, but He also knows the rest of the story. You might be in a time of fear and suffering right now, but hold on. Sunday is coming.