Give Yourself Away

Give Yourself Away

April 9, 2020 | N W | Commitment, Deacon Eddie, Discipleship, Generosity, Grace, Lent, Mission, Service

Holy Thursday
April 9, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14 / Ps 116 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / Jn 13:1-15
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

We are certainly living in some strange times. This coronavirus pandemic is a reminder that nothing is a given. If you look at the news at all, or if you have conversations with people, you probably have seen people making references to past events in history. Oftentimes, they’re talking about past pandemics like the great plague or the Spanish flu pandemic. Or they’re talking about difficult times in the past, like wars.

I have to confess that I’ve always loved history, and my favorite history is listening to stories from people who have been there. I was especially fond, as a child, of listening to my grandparents tell me stories about when they were children: stories about growing up during the Depression, stories about World War II, about what it was like here in Bedford, Virginia, when all of the boys went off to war, or hearing stories about what it was like to be on a ship in a battle, or crossing the ocean when you had never been more than ten or fifteen miles from where you had grown up.

I enjoyed these stories and I liked trying to put myself in them and imagine what it must have been like back then. But I confess, especially after the past few weeks, that while our current situation is not as bad as some pandemics in the past, and certainly not as serious as the food shortages and difficulties of wartime, still I think I can appreciate those stories a little more. I’ve come to the realization that my picture probably did not do them justice.

We’re in the middle of Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year for Christians. During this time, often, we practice spiritual exercises that focus on the historic events of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem, of His betrayal by Judas, of His suffering, His death, and His resurrection on Easter morning. These can be very powerful exercises and they can bear much spiritual fruit.

As I was preparing to start Holy Week, as I often do, I pulled out the Ordo. Usually at the beginning of these seasons there is a reflection by someone. This time it was by a man by the name of Nathan Mitchell. In his reflection about this sacred time of the year, he says,

The liturgies of these days do not take us back to the upper room or the path to
Calvary. Their ultimate purpose is not to relive these hours. They celebrate
not so much what once happened, but what is happening now among us
as a people called to conversion.

While these Holy Week events, the Paschal Mystery, are true historical events, they are more than just that. They are a mystery. During this time, we are called to enter into that mystery, to refocus on what it means to be a Christian and to live as a member of the Body of Christ. It’s a call, not so much to look back, but to look forward, even though sometimes, we tend to focus on the past. That’s not where we live. We live in the now.

This time of quarantine has reminded a lot of people of some of the things that are more important. For us, as Christians, of utmost importance, is to spend our time as members of Christ’s body and to share in that grace that flows forward through history to now.

Bishop Robert Barron, in his reflection on today’s gospel, reminds us that as Christians, we live in a paradox. The paradox is this: “Happiness is never a function of filling oneself up. It is a wonderful function of giving oneself away.” Friends, many people right now are giving themselves away. We are called to do the same. Not all of us can be at the hospital helping the sick, or out delivering food, but each one of us can help in our own way. As Jesus said in the gospel today, “I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Mass Times