Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’
These words from John’s Gospel are very familiar to most of us. We believe that it is the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, our world. This bread of life feeds our souls and nurtures our spirit so that we may live as the children of God.
I have always loved the scriptures we read and hear proclaimed during the Easter Season. I can so relate to the ups and downs of the apostles in the early church going on about their ministry on their own without Jesus physically present. Even though we believe in the promise that no matter what, Jesus would always be with us. In our humanness we fall short at times and doubt his presence and concern! This year in the midst of the pandemic, it seems even more of a challenge! Our days are filled with worry and uncertainty as death and sickness run rampant in our communities and around the world. We are being challenged to believe that our God is alive and in our midst especially on the most hopeless of days.
So, for many weeks now, COVID-19 has forced us to look at our comfortable lives in a different way. It continues to test our faith and leads some to wonder where God is in all of this suffering and chaos! In a way we are like the apostles in the early church, who must have felt very alone and scared without their friend Jesus by their side. Jesus told them many times he would not be with them forever in the same way, but they didn’t really believe he would really leave them. As believers we know God is right here in the midst of our suffering. Just because our God chooses to be present in ways we do not expect does not mean we have been abandoned by a God who promises us we would never be hungry or thirsty if we put our faith and trust in him.
Our hungers and thirst are satisfied as we grow closer to family who we may not have taken the time to stay in touch with in our busyness. My blood family are all in Michigan and we don’t always stay in touch as much as we would like. During these past weeks several of us have used the app Marco Polo to check in with each other almost daily. It is reminding us of how important we all are to one another. It’s amazing how much time we spend laughing and teasing each other and come away missing each other a little bit less. In the parish and school where I serve as pastoral associate there are many innovative ways everyone is using to teach, learn and pray together. Each Sunday a small group of us meet to livestream the Sunday liturgy so that our parishioners have an opportunity to stay connected in some small way with the bigger church.
My plan is to retire from ministry this summer. COVID-19 is giving me a different exit plan then I had anticipated! Instead of spending these final months breaking in my successor, tying up loose ends in the office, spending quality time with the community I love, I am working mostly from home in a virtual setting with those I minister with. My time has largely been spent in planning and preparing through zoom, live stream, U-tube, etc. We stay connected to RCIA via weekly Zoom, emailing with families with catechetical programs, online conversing with colleagues and parishioners for a variety of needs. My hungers and thirsts are being met in different ways as I enjoy the time spent out of doors when able, to see the hand of God in nature all around me. To hear and see so many people doing so many wonderful things in our community to help one another and taking the time to get to know our neighbors has all been an unexpected gift to pave the way into a new life to come in the months ahead.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!!!! Jesus is Risen and with us always!!!
Theresa Secord is a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.