Today, I appreciate Martha and Mary’s indignation at the Resurrection and the Life. Where exactly were you? And if you knew that you could have prevented this, why didn’t you show up.
Last night, I fell asleep crying angry tears of rage, as I realized that Easter Masses are really not going to be an option this year. Having just exited the denial stage of grief, I slid right into the anger. Nothing about this current situation feels quite real—and whenever we have to accept what it is taking away from us, it makes it a bit more so.
God does not owe us much, that much is pretty clear if you’ve even got a passing familiarity with the story of Job or cracked open the last 1/4th of a Gospel. The Psalmist is pretty confident that God will do all sorts of things for them. About to stub your toe?! Think again! Angels **got your back**. Surrounded by enemies? LMFAO, God will scatter them.
It becomes very clear that what is spiritually required of us is a total trust in God with also an acceptance that that trust will not guarantee physical safety. It guarantees us absolutely nothing other than that God is with us.
It makes me wildly angry at all these alarmists who thought that lack of religious freedom was what was going to prevent American Catholics from being able to worship in a Church. And so then they worshipped at the feet of Donald Trump as a savior, a champion for Religious Freedom and Conservative Values. Ironically, it is under his watch, due to his negligence, due to his criminal lack of government preparedness, foresight, and leadership that our churches have been closed.
We wouldn’t have to be without Mass if we had had enough tests, if we had had the pandemic response team on the National Security Council, if we had maybe had a bit more actual leadership, that pays attention to anything outside its own ego, that listened and cooperated with others, that was proactive and effective.
Caveat the first: in all fairness, we would have probably had to have gone at least a few weeks without Mass, but! This sort of extended uncertainty of closures could certainly have been precluded.
Caveat the second: I am, of course, happy and willing to sacrifice Easter Mass if that prevents my grandmothers and any and all grandmothers (meaning both physical grandmothers and those elderly sages who are grandmothers to us all) from getting sick and passing away. There is literally no other population of people I would more gladly sacrifice anything for and who are probably most at risk of contracting illness through mass-going. The wanna-be Psalmists who are like: “the government can’t make us stop mass! Let’s have it anyway! Don’t give way to fear!” puzzle me to no end. Babe, the government isn’t making us close our churches, the virus, that our government was **not prepared for** is making us close them. And that virus is an objective fact that your cowboy posturing isn’t afraid of! Also, P.S., are you willing to go before the throne of God and own up to the fact that your actions have led to the death or harm of even one single grandmother? To each their own, but I will have a lot to answer for at the hour of death, and that is not a crime I want on my conscience.
Ecce the anger that is the fruit of grief.
Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Lazarus Sunday, one of my favorite Sundays of Lent, where we see the faith of two sisters prompt Christ’s final work of power that sets the wheels in motion for the Passion event.
Today, I found solace in their faith manifest in their anger. Athanasius reminds us: “The Word who became all things for us is close to us, our Lord Jesus Christ who promises to remain with us always. He cries out, saying: See, I am with you all the days of this age.”
We believe that, we believe that we are looking at the Resurrection and Life. So be with us, stay with us, if you had been with us, our brother would not have died.
I know that you are present, that your promise to abide remains, and we are being asked to see you in a new way. There is a death we are being asked to die. And the absence of a eucharistic presence is one that many of our fellow Christians throughout the world suffer. Mary and Martha perhaps were overconfident that their friendship with the Lord would guarantee their safety. Which, pace the Psalmist, is not guaranteed by God’s friendship. But their faith, like Job’s, is stronger than their hope for self-preservation. Faith that reaches outside our own concerns and persist, even as the buttresses of our own sense of self, wants, or our safety crumble, is called love.
The Resurrection and the Life does not seek to extend into eternity our concern for our own sense of self, our consciousness, or our safety, but our love.
We believe in Resurrection in the future, we know that you can roll away the stone, we know that you are the Christ and we believe. But in this moment, I am frozen in time, paused with Mary, who has fallen at your feet and rebukes you—who promised always to be present—for your notable and unwelcome absence.