Holy Thursday: Hope in the Uncertainty
BY MARCIA CHATELAIN, PH.D. | April 1, 2021
Jesus’ Last Supper narrative has taken on new meaning for many of us, as we celebrate a second Lenten and Easter season under some type of quarantine due to the global pandemic. Since the emergence of COVID-19 in the winter of 2019, and the global crisis of the virus’s spread in 2020, people of faith have adjusted their practices accordingly. Whether it is attending Mass through a computer screen or hosting virtual Easter egg hunts for family, believers have found new ways to interpret their obligations and fulfill their need for connectedness.
Perhaps this is why the Old Testament story of Passover—readying one’s home for a scourge—and the final gathering of Jesus’ apostles—the uncertainty of if and when one can gather with loved ones again—resonates deeply with me.
As I approached the one-year mark of the last time I saw my family, the last time I traveled on an airplane, and the last time I broke bread with friends in a restaurant, I found myself filled with the emotions and anxieties of the first few days in which people in the United States were directed to stay home and stay apart from others. Although there is so much to be hopeful for—including the distribution of vaccines, the medical interventions that have saved lives, and the graces that have visited many people during this new reality—I couldn’t shake the memories of fear and apprehension of those early days. In many ways, the Holy Thursday reading is particularly helpful for our times, when we are challenged to find new ways to show love and care for others in the absence of our normal routines and protocols. The text reminds us that no threat, no plague, no confrontation with state injustice can pull us away from the care of our neighbors and service to others.
- Where do you find hope in uncertainty, as witnessed both in the Passover story and the last year?
- How are you, in this moment, called to find new ways to love and care for others, to work for justice?
Dr. Marcia Chatelain is a Provost’s distinguished associate professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration and Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. Her next book will examine the history of college access programs and the specific ways that first-generation college students are transforming higher education. Chatelain has published pieces on the websites of The Atlantic and Time, as well as The Washington Post, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Chatelain was a keynote speaker at the 2019 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
There are so many things that bring me hope. The attention to issues we put on a back burner for a long time that are now in the minds and hearts of all. There is hope in caring for the disenfranchized and creating programs that will assist them. There is hope when we donate to feed military people who need food and it is done in plenty. There is hope when we have people discussing and being opposed to the death penalty. There is hope when we care about the immigrant population and how they should be cared for. There is hope when we provide shelter for the homeless.There is hope when we say NO to human trafickking There is hope when we pray for each other. There is hope when we donate to things that help our neighbors. There is hope when we deminish the amount of fossil fuel we use each day. There is hope when we are concerned, pray for and support our seminarians and priests throughout the world who bring to us spiritual wisdom and joy.
Today, Lord, help us to bring these issues more forcefully to our neighbors with kindness and compassion so our discipleship is spread throughout the world.
Thank you Dr. Chatelain for the way you have connected the uncertainty and the new way of being together during the pandemic with the experience of the women and men with Jesus at that seder meal, when everything for them was upended. Wow.
Thanks for this inspiring article. Indeed hope is vital in these testing times.