Thursday, April 02, 2020

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Holy Week is now upon us as this Sunday is the celebration of Palm Sunday, the first day of the most important week of the entire year. And this year, the celebration and remembrance throughout the week will be like none other. Given the lockdown reality, I hope and pray that individuals, couples and families will keep up the beautiful traditions that are associated with Holy Week; some of these traditions will have to be modified, if not eliminated, e.g., visiting the different churches. Maybe I will make a lamb cake, but of course, will only eat the frosting.

This is a time to allow the creative energies to flow freely, allowing some pent up feelings to be expressed. Engaging in our rituals and traditions is one way. When you're in close proximity to people you live with but aren’t used to being around all day, day to day life can become frustrating and difficult. Conflicts arise and they need to be dealt with as best as possible.

Jesus had to face his numerous conflicts with directness and honesty. Many of the people in his life, from family members to leaders, didn’t understand who he was. Some of those leaders were extremely upset with Jesus in today’s gospel, which is preparing us for Holy Week, because he identified himself with God the Father. Blasphemy!!! In using the phrase, “I AM,” evocative of the title God entrusted Moses with in the Book of Exodus, Jesus made it clear his identity, creating a hostile conflict with some of the religious leaders.

This ultimate conflict ends up with Jesus being rejected, condemned and crucified. Most conflicts can be peacefully resolved with dialogue and the surfacing of emotions in ways that can be received. But life does not always work this way. Sometimes, conflicts can only be resolved when the people involved need to maintain distance. So be it.

When the conflict involves our faith and the values, convictions and beliefs that are the foundation of this faith, the stakes are much higher. God must be chosen first and foremost. In most families, marriages and friendships, people are totally able to live with different understandings of God, religion or no religion. Some of the most beautiful families and couples I know have differences of religion and belief or no belief, and they are wonderful. It all boils down to the ability of each person involved to be able to not force anything or ridicule the other’s belief or lack of belief. God puts us together for a purpose; hopefully, we each will help the other to be the best person they can possibly be.

In the days ahead, try and keep a positive spirit going. Engage in conversations about faith and who Jesus is to you. If your partner and friend doesn’t believe, no problem!!!!! Listen to them as they listen to you. Be able to even laugh about it. Talk, dialogue, pray, read the scriptures... and then bake a lamb cake. But give me the frosting!!!

Fr. Frank