It is somehow fitting that Holy Week for Christians(April 5th Palm Sunday through Easter April 12th) falls in the midst of this tragic global Coronavirus-covid-19 Pandemic. And Passover for the Jewish Community also comes in this week, on April 9th. Both events speak to us of struggle, faith,love and ultimately triumph in the midst of tragedy. They speak to us of HOPE, and hope is what we most need in the midst of this pandemic leaving fear and death in its wake, although we hear less about the many who are getting the virus and living through it.
We need to hear those stories too for they give hope while somehow many feel betrayed that life as they knew it is now radically changed, our world is turned upside down- by a virus. One of our beloved elders here, Jack,90, a married retired priest still volunteering in the hospital, suddenly could not breathe. He was diagnosed with the COVID19 virus, hospitalized and sent home. They said he had a “non-lethal strain”. He is doing well two weeks after. Yet a 39 year old radio personality in our community got the virus and died within one week leaving a wife and young child. Another family man in his middle years is slowly getting better as is his teenage son. What is scary is that it is so unpredictable.
Some seek someone to blame for this and scapegoat others and even blame God because we feel helpless-even powerless. We no longer have the illusion that we can control everything.(And I will leave it to you to discover if there is an upside to this as you place your trust in God even when pain and death will inevitably happen despite our sense of control and power). Meaningful routine is lost, jobs are lost, schools are closed, families are separated at the most poignant of times,we can not actually touch one another or gather for anything. Those who found enjoyment in sports no longer have them to attend or to watch on TV and those who love to gather cannot do so. We cannot even have religious services together-even in Holy Week. While there are ways that we can still be in virtual and distant community,and show love and caring creatively as in communicating with loved ones through Nursing Home windows, and have virtual religious services using zoom and social media,we miss our joint worship, our hugs and simply being together. We are also seeing the many ways people can show love and that is heartening. Yet, fear and this sense of betrayal and even abandonment accompanies pandemics even as they accompanied the original events of Holy week as best we know them.
While most of us may not blame God or anyone else, we are wondering “where is God?” as we go through this on a huge global scale. Yet, it was for this hurting world that Jesus kept on going after Palm Sunday to the Cross. On Palm Sunday Jesus rode through Jerusalem on the back of a donkey(hardly the Cadillac or Mercedes of the times) and the common people cheered him on with shouts of Hosanna (Save us) and waving palm branches, threw their cloaks on the ground to make an easy path for him. It was a brief moment of joyful triumph though he knew what would be ahead. The crowds, full of ordinary people, including many poor and sick and outcast that he had healed,included, and helped,showed their thanks and love and hope for his reign. They didn’t understand that his reign was not to be a political one where the enemy would be overthrown and vanquished. They knew they loved him. This must have felt really good, but Jesus also knew that their love would include betrayal(Judas, his disciple would sell him for money) and denial ( even by Peter who had for a moment “gotten” who he was-“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” ), and abandonment by the disciples, and most of the crowd. He too wondered where is my beloved Abba God,as he was left alone, brutally beaten, scoffed, jeered at and in the worst physical pain. The emotional pain of betrayal may have been just as great. Pope Francis said in his Palm Sunday homily that when there is love and trust betrayal is the worst that can happen. Yet, Jesus love for us got him through it. Wow!!
Jesus experienced the worst pain at every level. Physically- talk about not being able to breathe in the throes of the coronavirus- nailed to the cross arms splayed out and hands and feet nailed, he could not breathe. And while his mother and the women and maybe one of the disciples followed as close as they could most of the disciples were nowhere to be seen and he faced the cross alone. He talked to His Father and quoted the Psalm about being abandoned by God, though in his native Aramaic this may have also meant, “I have fulfilled my destiny”. Simply, he faced an ugly death head on and kept on moving forward. To rise again in three days as he forecasted, to break the bonds of death, to bring us eternal life, he had to die even as we do, and it was anything but an easy death. We can now turn to him who knew suffering to know our suffering and to be with us in it, so we do not have to ever be alone. We marvel how great was his love, how great was God’s love. For Easter, we will focus on life and be glad. Thank God for Easter, it makes all the difference.
Yet,for Palm Sunday for a brief moment we focus on the triumph of his ministry, how he reached the people no one cared about with love and how he took on anything and anyone who lost the meaning of “love your neighbor as yourself”. The Gospels say Jesus was hung between two revolutionaries, also called thieves. Indeed he was a revolutionary of the best kind,taking on the powers that be and showing the power of God’s love, making everything new again by his death and resurrection. For Holy Week we focus on what lies ahead for Jesus and we cringe for him and for ourselves even as we recognize within ourselves the lack of fidelity to love. we too go through our Good Fridays to get to Easter. And he is there with us too with the promise of life. Wow!
For a look at Palm sunday’s past and the meditations of three women priests you can visit my earlier blog:
Have a blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week
Pastor Judy Lee
Rev.Dr. Judith Lee,RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
The Roman Catholic Church is caught up in ugly partisan politics as Donald Trump attempts to assert himself as the only Right To Life Candidate for the 2020 Presidency of the United States of America. To decide if this is true one needs to look into the Social Teachings of the Church. If one knows, believes,loves and follows the Catholic teachings on Social Justice, one knows that ALL of life is to be valued ,from the womb to the tomb and ALL instances in between. All life is God-given and worth living with all the quality of living needed to live. All immigrants and strangers are entitled to their right to life wherever they and their children can truly live and thrive. All who have mental or physical challenges, both abilities and “disabilities” are entitled to a right to the fullness of life. All- of any culture, race, social class, language, color or of any particular religion or other persuasion are entitled to life. All of either gender or both genders or transgenders are entitled to the fullness of life. All of any sexual orientation including those somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum are entitled to the fullness of life. All of any age, from pre-birth to death, the young and the old and the very old and those in between are entitled to the right to life. All human beings anywhere are entitled to respect, dignity, compassion, mercy and freedom from armed conflicts and war-all deserve LIFE.
This includes (in no particular order as all are important) challenging archaic death penalties or state appointed murder as a solution to even the most horrendous crimes. The death-penalty is a right to life issue. Compassionate treatment of all immigrants is a right to life issue. Nuclear disarmament and PEACE are right to life issues . Access to food and water and compassionate care for all is a right to life issue. This includes full access to an income, food and shelter,education and health care both preventive and remediative for ALL. This also includes attention to the ecological perspective for both humans and animals, for the rain forests and all of the environment, and all living things. Love and care for God’s Creation is a right to life response. Cruelty or disregard for any living being (human or animal of any type) is the opposite of the right to live within Catholic Social Justice teachings. Believing in the right to life includes not “bad-mouthing” and ghettoizing any individual or group of people. Valuing and championing all of these rights to life are, arguably,the most important rules we live by-the essence of the Golden Rule- LOVE your neighbor as yourself- emphasized by Jesus and an essential part of all the world’s major religions. If we love all of our neighbors- no exceptions– we make very different policies and programs and uphold actions that uphold the right to life of all-not only the unborn and not only those like ourselves.
Here is the link to an excellent article by Tom Roberts of NCR Online on this topic of the right to life and the way the Church is being used and manipulated in ugly partisanship. I thank Ellen McNally President of our SW Florida CTA-Call To Action- group for sharing this article.
Let us open our eyes and see what is happening and act accordingly to support the universal right to life of all beings.
Love and blessings,
Rev. Dr Judy Lee,RCWP,DMin,DSW,MS
Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida
The Courage to Love and Serve-The Life Story of Rev. Judith Ann Beaumont – A Roman Catholic Woman Priest And A Saint For Our Times is HERE
“She Followed Her Conscience in Prophetic Obedience–and Disobedience!
This is the exciting and sometimes surprising life of Rev. Judy Beaumont: Benedictine Sister, Peace activist, “Jailbird”,prison reformer,justice seeker and provider of new life for the homeless and those at the margins and me, blessed to be her partner in life and ministry It is autobiographical as it contains her own writings and words as well as mine. It is authentic and faithful to her life of love, compassion and prophetic obedience. Be inspired and carry it on!”
Thus reads the back cover of this book by Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, yours truly.
This link should take you to a Review by Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan and a link to the book.
It is available NOW at Amazon.com and by tomorrow the Kindle Direct Publication e- copy will be available too- also Amazon.com. I do hope you will read it and be inspired to continue your own acts of love, conscience and compassion.
Thank you for your consideration. And I would love your feedback.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community , Fort Myers, Florida
And Good Shepherd Ministries
As we celebrate Advent,a most joyful time of hope and expectation as we await the newness of the incarnation of Christ once again in our lives at Christmas, it is energizing to receive encouraging news. It is good that during this time we who await good news on the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church, and we who have already been ordained as Roman Catholic women Priests through the RCWP, Roman Catholic WomenPriests Movement, receive news of both action and progress. the following articles affirm hope for the future and evidence of our
positive existence even now.
The first article is about Amazon Synod leader, German Bishop Josef Overbeck who discusses positive views on the Ordination of women and also on the just treatment of gays in the church’s views and in the church itself. This is the link:
The second article is about Rev. Barbara Beadles,RCWP, a member of the Eastern Region of Roman catholic WomenPriests. She is welcomed by many as she serves a home Mass. This is the link:
Enjoy these hopeful pieces of news as you await the birth of Jesus and the renewal of our faith at Christmas.
Members of the Eastern Region of Roman Catholic Women Priests
This is our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community celebrating a House Mass,
A Blessed Advent to ALL,
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP