March 28, 2020
My dear beloved brothers and sisters,
I sincerely hope that you’re all well and in good health, staying calm, peaceful and healthy during this very interesting time. I guess for some of us, it’s like a long-awaited vacation that we always dreamed of and now it’s for real! It’s what some refer to as a ‘Staycation’ – Stay Home Vacation! Yes, high school seniors (excited about their new driving license), young college students and many of us with low income look at the price of gas today and are excited. Wow! Gas is finally affordable, but then we realize, we can’t go anywhere! For some of us, living together as a family for 24/7 under the same roof can be very stressful and almost unbearable, especially when we have little children and teenagers in the house together. I just pray you don’t kill each other! Even your pets react differently, these are the days your dogs have all been waiting for. They realize their owners can’t leave the house and they get you 24/7! Dogs are rejoicing everywhere. But cats, on the other hand, are contemplating suicide! The other day a lady called me to ask if we were having Church this Sunday! I simply asked her if she was having “cabin fever”? She just burst out laughing!
At our SLT(Senior Leadership Team) meeting, it was suggested that we streamline the Mass from Church, do drive-by Adoration/Confessions, open the church doors for private prayer, etc. While these may be all great ideas, somehow I was not at peace with them. So this past week I’ve been praying to Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament simply asking why? Why is the coronavirus spreading so fast and killing so many people throughout the whole world? Why bring so much chaos, panic and fear into people’s lives? Why close down churches and why can’t your people come to worship together and celebrate the Sacraments? No weekday Masses? No Sunday Masses? No First Communion for our children? No Confirmation? And now, No Holy Week??? Lord, why are you causing so much stress on our families who now have been given another new order to Stay Home? What is your holy will for us?
My beloved parishioners, I truly believe that God is trying to get our attention, the whole world’s attention during this pandemic. I believe this is a huge wake-up call for all of us! During the daily Mass that I offer for you each day, this past Thursday of the fourth week of Lent, the words of Scripture from Exodus 32: 7-14, John’s Gospel 5:31-47 and the beautiful reflection from our small Lenten reflection book by Michelle Francl-Donnay, jumped out at me and has been haunting me (in a good way) ever since. In that reflection, Henry Nouwen says that God cannot be reduced to a single idea or concept. In Exodus 32, the people of God decided to build for themselves a ‘golden calf’ to worship as their God. In the gospel, Jesus challenges the Pharisees who think they can scour the Scriptures to find eternal life, limiting their search for God to the pages of a book.
What is our ‘golden calf’ today? Have we limited our search for God only inside our Church buildings, only in the Scriptures? Has the church we built become our ‘golden calf’ today? Has the Bible become our ‘golden calf’? Or we can even ask have the Sacraments become our ‘golden calves’ today? We have become so used to the idea that we can worship God only in Church; that we can experience God’s presence only in the Sacraments. Like Michelle in her Lenten reflection, wonders “if the to-do list of prayers she makes every day have become her ‘golden calf?’ Have I made an image of God so small that I can send him to ‘done’ for the day with a click?” Maybe we have also reduced God to our To-Do-List, weekday Mass –click ‘done’ for the day, Sunday Mass-click “done’ for the day, First Holy Communion-click ‘done’ for the day, Confirmation-click ‘done’ for the day!
I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who said that even though we truly believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, God is still more than that. Henry Nouwen has reminded us that God cannot be reduced to a single idea or concept. So with Governor Whitmer’s new Stay Home executive orders last Monday, March 23rd comes many opportunities for all of us to initiate and create new ways of experiencing God within the boundaries of our homes. There’s no more Church, no more Sacraments, no more receiving Jesus in the Eucharist but today Jesus desires to be with you in your heart, in your home, not only for a day but every day for the rest of your life! “I am with you always until the end of time.” Mt. 28:20. Remember the Early Church? When there were no churches, no Sacraments, no Bibles, etc? What did they have? They had Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, Emmanuel – God-with-us! I invite all families to try out and discover new best practices of how you can continue to experience God within the confinement of your homes. I still remember vividly when my Dad was alive and we were young, our family used to have Morning and Evening Prayers together each day, pray the Rosary, meals were always together, learn Catechism after dinner(older kids teaching the younger ones). We would do our chores and go fishing almost every day. We would sit in a circle and ask forgiveness from one another or other days we affirm the good we find in each other and be grateful to God for the blessings. Parents, please make use of this wonderful opportunity to create activities for your children that they’ll always remember for the rest of their lives. Be not afraid and pray that your Faith will be bigger than your fears! My orders to you – Stay Home and Enjoy Jesus who now resides in you and in your home!
I love you all! Fr Kusi
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