“Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.” -Psalm 23:1-2
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.” -Psalm 130:1-2
The 23rd Psalm couldn’t have been more appropriate last week, and this weekend’s readings touch on our fears yet our hopes as well.
The prophet Ezekiel sees the calamities facing his nation and still proclaims hope rising as the Lord is revealed. Paul continues in a similar vein, proclaiming that the spirit of the Lord is within us, giving us life over death.
It is the entire 11th chapter of John’s Gospel that carries us through a remarkable journey, from Jesus on the road with his disciples and the news of Lazarus’ passing (v. 1-16) to the encounters with Martha and then Mary, and the revelation that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life (v. 17-27) to the emotional response of Jesus and the people at the grave (v. 28-37) to the raising of Lazarus (v. 38-44).
In our own world today, we are facing similar fears related to isolation, destruction, and death. Ultimately,
however, we see unfolding among us the love of our God who raises us up from despair and offers us life over death. Our future Lenten journeys will always remind us of this time together. While I may not be a prophet, I know that the poignancy of love, consolation, and strength will inspire us for the rest of our days. It is Martha who strikes at the heart of what we are feeling. Her direct attitude exhibited by her leaving the mourners and
confronting Jesus on the road makes her my champion! “Lord, if you had only been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
There is room in our prayer for questioning God at a time like this. How could all this be happening? How could our churches be closed when we need them most? How could the threats around us be possible? Martha’s response to Jesus is a model for our prayer.
In the heat of the moment, she allows herself to listen. That must be part of our prayer and solitude. Once we listen with our hearts to the spirit of the Lord within us, we will have the courage and strength to not only endure but also to thrive; for as (Martha) said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world” (John 11:29).
This past week, we encountered Mary’s “yes,” her response to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and now Martha. To all those saying “yes” as they are called into the service of prayer for all our sisters of brothers, I say thank you – and I believe.
God bless you! -Fr. George
ALL MASSES IN THE DIOCESE OF ALBANY CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, FAITHFUL URGED TO TAKE TIME TO PRAY AT HOME
Due to growing concerns and medical advice related to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in social settings, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger
has announced that all regularly scheduled public Masses in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany — except weddings and funerals — will be canceled until further notice. Churches will, however, remain open for private prayer, pending further regulations. In addition, all Confirmations have been canceled until further notice and will be rescheduled. Funerals and weddings may be attended only by close family and in accordance with social distancing
and capacity requirements. Further restrictions may force a change in those guidelines as we go forward. “Although we know how difficult it is for Catholics to be without the Mass and without the Eucharist, we must do our part to help ‘flatten the curve’ and stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to
protect the most vulnerable among us,” Bishop Scharfenberger said when making the announcement. “I encourage the faithful to
pray and fast as we continue our journey through this season of Lent. Try to include at least 15 minutes of daily intentional prayer, with family where possible and safe. Use the Bible, say the Rosary, watch Mass on TV, and please remember to pray for those who are suffering from the Coronavirus worldwide and for community who are on the front lines.” The Diocese of Albany is keeping Catholics apprised of changes, updates and resources on its dedicated web page: rcda.org/ coronavirus. In addition, a Faith at Home page includes links to live streamed Mass, daily Scripture readings, saints of the day, and suggestions for creating a sacred space at home: rcda.org/coronavirus/resources.
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