A Franciscan Parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit


April 19, 2020

It may not feel much like Easter. But is some ways, this Easter may not be so different from the first Easter. There were only a few people there; they were distancing themselves and hiding behind locked doors. They were confused and afraid. There was a bit of joy creeping in -- they were half overjoyed, half fearful -- but confusion pretty much reigned. In those dark days, it took a while for the mystery of what was happening to unfold. They had to face all the realities of the past days: denial, abandonment, betrayal, sin, suffering, death.

But in the midst of all this, things gradually began to change. A new sense began to merge. They began to experience the very real presence of the one they loved so much, whom they thought was gone, killed, horribly crucified. But now came words of an empty tomb, and talk that he had appeared to some of them. Gradually they became convinced, and more than that, transformed. They felt a continued presence even as he returned to his Father. They felt loved and filled with courage. They and the world became different.

There may be a grace in celebrating Easter the way we are this year. We don’t have a lot of lilies in the church; we may not focus on a lot of bunnies, chocolate, eggs and jelly beans, unless you were an early shopper and able to buy them ahead of time.

In our bare bones celebration, and not being able to gather for a meal with our extended family or have an Easter egg hunt for all the kids of the parish, we may be able to touch into the deeper, richer, mysterious reality of Easter.

It is looking like we have a few more weeks of staying home, being locked down in order to contain the spread of the virus. But maybe we can re-frame our experience, and look at it a different way. Maybe this time is not about isolation, but germination. I am thinking of how we plant seeds at this time of year. For a while, we see nothing. But under the ground there is a lot of life going on! Gradually the seed sprouts, grows, and becomes something beautiful and lovely.

I am thinking that this year, I should not wish you a Happy Easter, but a blessed time of germination!

One of my favorite poets, the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hollins, wrote a beautiful line in one of his poems. He wrote: “Let him Easter in us.” I love how he turns Easter from a noun into a verb. I say today, let the process begin! May Easter germinate in you!

Fr. Jeff


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