21st / 22nd March 2020

posted 26 Jun 2020, 01:26 by Parish Office

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A – Laetare and Mothering Sunday (21 & 22/3/20)


This is the first time that I have ever prepared a homily, knowing that I won’t actually deliver it at Mass.  It’s a bit of a strange experience.  But my plan is to continue putting together homilies to be read from the parish webpage, or printed off together with the parish bulletin, as a way of reaching out to the parish and all others who wish to read these homilies, at this time when public Masses are temporarily not taking place.  In the Gospel today, Christ says, “the night will soon be here when no one can work”, and it sounds a bit like what is happening now, as the country “shuts down” and even the Church in this country says that we need to spend time in isolation to avoid the further spread of this virus.


For many of us, the cessation of public Masses will be sorely felt, as will the “fast” from the Eucharist.  Those who can, will be able to watch Masses over the internet, streamed from various locations (unfortunately we don’t have this facility here in the parish).  It will be possible to make a spiritual communion, asking the Lord, present on the altar to enter into our hearts.  But still, it won’t be the same as being physically present at Mass and receiving the Lord sacramentally.


For others, who don’t regularly go to Mass, there might be different responses.  For some, the fact that they now don’t have the option of going to Mass even if they wanted to, might mean that they miss it more than they did before.  For others, it might be that it doesn’t make any difference.  They never wanted to go anyway, so now that Masses have ceased, their response is one of indifference.


The important thing at this time, though, is that the Lord has not abandoned us, and neither has the Church.  The present situation is only temporary.  In some ways, in this time of Lent, it might seem a bit like living through Good Friday after the Death of Christ.  But it’s not.  Christ is still present in the Blessed Sacrament in our churches.  Now perhaps might be a time to re-discover the Lord’s presence there, what Pope St Paul VI referred to as, “the living heart of each of our churches” (Credo of the People of God, no. 26).  He continues by saying, “And it is our very sweet duty to honour and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.”


To recognise the Lord requires a new vision.  Rather than just using our eyes to perceive outward appearances, we need what is sometimes called the “eyes of faith”, to see Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.


Today’s Gospel makes a similar point:  who are the ones who can truly see, and who are those who cannot?  The man born blind encounters the Son of Man.  He is healed of his physical blindness, and then is gradually able to recognise Christ, not just as any other man, or just as a prophet, but as the Son of Man, God-among-us who is to be worshipped.  Meanwhile the Pharisees, who are supposed to be the ones with the sight of faith, who claim to be followers of Moses, are not able to see who Christ is, and reject Him and all who follow Him.


So when we enter the Church, and see the red sanctuary light burning near the tabernacle, or see the Host exposed in the monstrance, do we see just another ordinary ecclesiastical object, one among many, just like we might see a candlestick, an altar cloth, a carpet, or do we “see” the living God?  Do we respond like the Pharisees, who rejected Christ as a liar, a false prophet and a sinner, or do we respond like the man born blind, who on seeing Him, worshipped Him?


The reality of the Blessed Sacrament is not an act of self-deception.  It is not just “in the mind”.  It is reality, as real as everything else around you.  If someone were not to believe that a wall was hard, and ran towards it, reality would catch up fairly soon!  Just because someone else might not believe that the Blessed Sacrament is truly Jesus present among us, disguised under the appearance of bread, it doesn’t mean that He isn’t there.  Hence why the Blessed Sacrament deserves special respect, and isn’t treated like any ordinary object.


But the importance for us now, at this time of worldwide pandemic, is to know that Christ is here with us, now.  He has not abandoned us.  As He said in the very last line of St Matthew’s Gospel, “And know that I am with you always; yes to the end of time” (Matt 28:20).


Before I end, just one final thing:  on Sunday 29th March, England will be re-dedicated to Mary as her dowry, as her special property, and as part of the lead-up to this, we are asked to pray a special triduum (three days) of prayer.  You will find on this website and also printed off in church, a Litany of the Saints and Martyrs of England.  Let’s join together and pray this litany on Thursday 26th, Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March.  I will make the re-dedication prayers available for Sunday (also available at www.behold2020.com), which we can then all pray together in our homes, asking for the help of Our Lady and the saints of this country at this difficult time.


God bless,

                                Fr Michael