Today I’m doing something a little different in light of the current Covid situation and the extension of social distancing / quarantine. Here is a reflection on this week’s Gospel that I hope is useful to you during this whole time of the quarantine.
During this time, we’re all, in some way, put away from life for a while. There will come a day when we are allowed to come out of the distancing and quarantine, and it will be a great feeling I think. God has allowed us to be put into the quarantine, but He’s also going to bring us out of it. It’s a sort of a rising from the dead, which is a central theme of the readings from this weekend:
O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them! (Ez 37:12-13)
That day is coming. How will it be for us? And what will we do? What will be different? Will we be different?
That all depends on what we do while we are in the quarantine.
There are some big moments when Jesus is in quarantine. Maybe the most obvious is his 40 days in the desert. That is the source of Lent, the season we’re in now. (And it’s the source of the word ‘quarantine’ itself.) So, here’s a question: What did Jesus do in the desert? We know he was tempted at the very end, but what did he do for those 40 days? Because when it was time to come out, he was ready! He came out with mission and purpose and new life.
If that reflection doesn’t resonate so much, there are two other times that I can think of Jesus in quarantine: When he is under water during his baptism, and when he’s buried in the tomb. Maybe you can think of another. Notice the difference in him when he comes out.
So, I offer a suggestion for prayer and reflection during this time: Is there a time that Jesus was in quarantine – a time away from life – that draws you? What was Jesus doing during that time? It’s not a looking for a “correct” answer. The reality is a mystery, but one that we can all enter into right now, and gradually discover to some degree ourselves, in a way that is directly relevant for us.
You can take your time and wonder and be curious. This is a type of reflection that you can keep coming back to – chewing on – over the course of this quarantine time. Let it evolve, let things come to you, without forcing anything. Pick up the scriptures to search and explore when you feel the desire, or you might catch an insight that comes to you during the day. Notice what you’re doing, and the situation around you – other people and circumstances. Something in a conversation or the news or a song catches your attention. What are the things you are drawn to? Notice whenever you do something that’s life giving, where you feel alive and energized. And notice the opposite types of things. A lot of people find it helpful to jot down thoughts, experiences, and notes in a notebook or on a paper (I use a notebook program in my cellphone.) Do you start to notice anything being revealed to you through it all?
You might discover things that resonate and connect with you, that inspire and motivate you. You might find things in your discovery about Jesus that surprisingly relate directly to you and your life right now. I’m a big believer that, in fact, God does prepare those inspirations for us, if only we actually want them and are open to receiving them. They can become food to guide and carry us through this time of quarantine that we all are sharing together.
So that when God calls us out of it, we come out ready, with mission and purpose and new life within us.
Choco-bananas coming out of the freezer ready!