Like it or not, we live in an altogether unpredictable world. It’s clear that we can never know how things will turn out, how our projects, our hopes and dreams will evolve, or how other people will respond to our words and actions. We can’t be sure what tomorrow will offer us, and often, because of difficult and painful experiences we’ve undergone in this world of constant change, we tend to react with fear, dismay and distress.
On this fifth Sunday of Easter, we are presented with this beautiful image of the vine and the branches, from the 15th chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Reading it over several times, I was struck especially by the word “abide”, which appears eight times in these eight verses, and the phrase “bear fruit”, which recurs four times. What might these phrases/thoughts mean to us, here and now? Where and how are we being called to “abide”, to connect, to find our home? And what is the fruit that we are being called to bear – as individuals, as parish communities, as global community?
In this time of Covid 19, we wear masks to protect ourselves and others. We all need to think of our community as a whole, not just about ourselves and how we may feel while wearing a mask.
Wearing seat belts, not smoking in public places, stopping at stop signs, respecting the speed limits, not drinking and driving . . . are all common things we do to protect ourselves and each other. Please add wearing a mask to that list.
Would you want your surgeon to forgo a mask for your surgery because they “feel fine” and “don’t like how a mask feels”? Certainly not.
The 1987 Danish film Babette’s Feast tells the story of two sisters in a remote 19th-century Danish village who never marry and live a simple and strict life dominated by their authoritarian father, the pleasure-denying pastor of the village’s austere church.
Both sisters had opportunities to leave the village, one with a military officer, and the other with an opera singer. But their pastor-father objected and they instead spent their lives caring for him and the elderly and sick members of the village.
On this octave of Easter, the Gospel reveals to us a saving encounter. Peter and John have seen the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene has seen the Lord, and runs to tell the good news to the other disciples. You would think they would be out celebrating. But they are not. Afraid of the same authorities who had put their Lord and Teacher to death, they are in lockdown: hiding behind locked doors, afraid to let anyone in.