BY JUSTIN WHITE | April 20, 2020
Sunday’s Readings

I am full of doubts. Every morning when I wake up I try to resist the temptation to check the latest news, but often falter. CNN headlines have become my idol and my emotional regulation has suffered. I’ve become captive to the projections of the death toll increasing, clips of President Trump arguing with reporters, and production of Marvel movies and TV shows being halted (it might not be a big deal to you but they are a huge source of joy for me!). 

Even beyond, I sit with the fear of receiving a text that a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a student is battling the virus. Or worse…receiving a call that a family member has passed away, knowing that the ability to gather as a family and mourn is essentially prohibited. Unfortunately, that very reality has happened to me, as my family received news that my great-aunt died this past Thursday. 

My sense of self has been truly shaken. I no longer wake up with a clarity of mission, a certainty of my day. There is no organizing of the work bag, no commute to my school, no greetings to early arriving students. The usual parameters of the life I navigated have utterly shifted. I know beyond the walls of my house the “greater mission” still continues to exist. However, empty streets, mask-clad walkers, and a “stay-at-home” order have made the outside feel like a threat. How am I supposed to be during this time? Who am I supposed to be during this time? What is my way of proceeding?

way of proceeding

The early disciples, like us, had to be asking these questions, as they locked themselves in a room out of fear of persecution and death. 

Jesus answers both their fears and ours with peace be with you. A statement that is part comforting and part challenging.  

A statement that reminds us to center ourselves back in what we know to be true…God does not abandon us. There are times when this truth is not real enough to break through the closed doors of despair and hopelessness. 

For the nurse and doctor that has declared yet another patient deceased, God may feel nowhere. For the father or mother sitting at the table figuring out their finances, God may feel nowhere. For the convicted, whether rightfully or wrongly, sitting in a detention center fearing contracting the virus, God may feel nowhere.  

It is in these moments that Jesus goes beyond his divinity and appeals to our humanity, His humanity with the phrase, “Put your finger here and see my hands.” Jesus knows and feels our pain. He cries with us and mourns with us, but he challenges us to hold onto our Peace. He challenges us to still see the good that is happening in our world: “A new birth to the living hope.” 

Former nurses and doctors returning to the field to help. Grassroots organizations working to provide financial assistance where federal assistance has failed. Advocates working to open prisons and detention centers. Family members supporting each other in a time of loss.  

The work continues and will always continue. We must hold onto that Peace. Let us not doubt, let us not despair, for “He is good and His love is everlasting.” This is our way of proceeding.

[In memory of Antoinette Green]

13 replies
  1. Avatar
    Brian Marana says:

    Hi Justin,

    I resonate with the idea that it may feel that God is “nowhere.”

    Fr. Johnny Go S.J., a Jesuit at the Ateneo de Manila University, reflected on this thought during an online Easter retreat. Feel free to take a look here: https://pinsoflight.net/godisnowhere/

    Here’s the relevant line:

    “It’s the classic Easter question.
    And we have to choose our answer:
    Do we say “NOWHERE“–
    or “NOW HERE“?”

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Ann zimmer says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that. So many of your emotions I am feeling too. How am I suppose to be? The peace be with you resonated through the gospel this weekend…… yes we need to remain in the peace of Christ. Thank you for starting my day on a hopeful note, I needed that. ❤️

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Elaine Mullin says:

    Hello Justin, Thank you for sharing the sadness of your great aunt’s death. May she Rest In Peace. In this Easter time we are reminded of God’s loving message of Peace as he appeared after the Resurrection. Rest in the comfort of God telling you that. I think so very many of us these days awaken to the temptation of “no longer wake(ing) up with a clarity of mission, a certainty of my day” but that takes a little self shaking to get right back on track. It requires us to come face to face with the reality that security is an illusion. What do I mean by that? It comes after hearing a homily yesterday by Fr. Mike Schmitz. Please Google his name. He is on YouTube and is serving in the Duluth, Minnesota area. What is “normal?” Nothing is if you think about it. Every moment exposes potential change ….and growth. This pandemic has hit the world just the same as people experience “personal pandemics” that ravage mind, body and soul. We just have to face what has come at us and forge through with all the changes that come at us. God is at our side through it all. Even though we can tell each other these things we will find ourselves going over and over them until we realize it is the right thing to be thinking/doing. It can be shockingly hard on “the system” but God is there with us through it all and that is what in the end brings it all “home” to us. Keep up the good work. We need you.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Kira McLaughlin says:

    I focus my vision on the land, on creation, on God. I cannot work now but have a little patch of land that I have cultivated where there is a good day of sunlight. Today I took some old egg cartons I saved and planted seeds; spinach, chard, cucumbers, squash, lettuces, potatoes, and others. I keep my vegetable scraps and recycle them back to nourish the earth; compost. I live in an outburb. It used to be a rural place but now many wealthy people have come here to escape from the cities with their wealth. It is very interesting to me. They have so much yet they seem hungry to devour what many simple people have worked so hard to sustain here over centuries. So I may not be able to keep my home; but I know in my heart where my true home is. Sometimes I watch the new urban settlers walk by my silly and rustic looking garden and I hope they will see a glimpse of what the earth, God’s
    creation can provide. Jesus taught us to not be afraid. Our Blessed Mother knew that with God anything is possible. It only begins with a seed.

    Reply

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