It’s Friday but Sunday is Coming! 

These are extraordinary times!  Each day brings another change in our routine that shakes our security whether financially, psychologically, medically or maybe all three.  And if that is not already too much, now our Sunday Mass, the one place each week we might go to hear the hopeful proclamation of the Gospel and to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, has been suspended.  These are more than extraordinary times; these are times that cause us to look deep into our hearts to find spiritual solid ground that will give us the firm footing to meet the immediate challenges before us in this extraordinary time.   

Lent is an extraordinary time.  Every year we commit to 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  We make sacrificial Lenten commitments to change those routines, pleasures and attachments that keep us from fully embracing our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ.  We confront the sins of our lives and ask for forgiveness and the grace that we might become more alive in Jesus Christ and, as a result, faithful members of the body of Christ, the Church.  Lent is supposed to disrupt our routine so we create a space in our lives where God can help us create a new normal in our lives. 

If we take our concerns to God in prayer we may discover in these moments of uncertainty, fear, general feeling of dread or worry, that what we need is to find “The Hope” that does not disappoint.  As Christians we can find that hope in our Lenten meditation on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.  

I once heard a story about a wise old pastor who delivered a sermon of just one phrase.  He arose, walked to the pulpit and proclaimed first softly, and then over and over a little louder each time, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!” In just a few minutes the congregation was cheering with the hope of the proclamation.  Of course the Friday he was referring to was Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross.  This is the path we are on in Lent, to follow Jesus and to accept his invitation to pick up our cross and follow him.  There is no doubt that many of us are experiencing FRIDAY in our lives at this time.  Like Jesus on the Way of the Cross, we have not just fallen, we feel as though we have been pushed down, we have been stripped of financial, medical and psychological security and the comfort of familiar routines of just a few weeks ago. These changes have required we give up so many pleasures, meetings with loved ones and to make sacrifices that we might have considered unthinkable just a few weeks ago.  But most of all we may feel that we are losing hope, we ask, “Where is this all going?” 

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Here we find the deepest wisdom of the cross.  It is impossible to know the mind and knowledge of Christ, but we believe that he was fully human and therefore truly experienced our highest joys but also our deepest darkness.  As Jesus walked his Way of the Cross he experienced as a human being what it is like to walk forward, without seeing any possibility other than death on a cross.  We feel this way when we just wonder will this ever end.  We worry as we see the human institutions being overwhelmed and the safety nets disappearing.  We keep moving forward but there is no visible hope in these moments, or at least the path forward feels unsure.  In this moment we consider that Jesus continued forward not trusting in what he saw before him, but he trusted in the love of His Father, and if he remained in His will, Jesus was confident that His Father would not abandon Him.  He may have humanly experienced this abandonment for a moment, like we may feel at times, but in the end, Jesus’ knowledge of the absolute care of His Father in heaven was stronger, and Jesus’ last words were beautifully, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.”   

This confidence in the loving care of His Father was the foundation of Jesus’ life and it was greater than any human difficulty or even spiritual danger.  This means for us that our greatest strength as Catholics, as men and women of faith, is to trust that, “It may be Friday now but Sunday is coming.”  Our hope is in the Lord and this hope is the firm foundation that allows us to not just endure the difficulties of our new reality but maybe even do so with renewed joy and optimism.  This Hope in the Lord gives us an unshakeable foundation that frees us to look beyond our own needs so that we can become an agent of hope and to even being a presence of God’s love to others in this difficult time. 

It is said that St. John the Apostle, in his old age, gave only one sermon, “Little children, love one another.” One of the effects of losing Hope in the Lord is that we tend to only see what we are losing, our difficulties and sacrifices. If we can recover a new confidence that God is with us, then as we face the very real challenges that lay before us we will live this Friday time but always with ever present confidence that Sunday is coming.  This renewed Hope frees us to trust and not just focus on our own need, which may be great, but also to become aware of the needs of others and look for a way that you can help someone else.  Just a faithful phone call each day to someone who lives alone will not only be a blessing to them but also help to break us out of our fear and to act out of our hope in the Lord.   

If you are financially able, we can further be of help by not forgetting about your church parish or charitable agencies like Catholic Charities or the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and other nonprofits still out there doing what they can to help the most vulnerable.  Consider supporting, as you are able, local businesses.  In these ways we remember the words of Jesus to “Love one another” and we find that Charity is a fruit of our Hope and also engenders Joy within us, especially in these extraordinary times.   

In the Lenten weeks to come carry in your heart these two sermons, “It’s Friday but Sunday’s comin’!” and “Little children, love one another.”  Find your deepest spiritual foundation in Jesus, keep moving forward with the confidence that He is with us and HOPE IN THE LORD! 

“But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body” (2Cor. 4:7-11).