We have received word that Archbishop Schnurr and the Bishops of Ohio have set Monday, May 25th as the day to resume parish Masses. Weekday Masses will begin first, — the Sunday obligation is suspended for a while and we shall work toward eventually all coming together on the Lord’s Day. By spreading attendance at Mass over the whole week we will be in a better position to observe the “distancing” required, rather than trying to squeeze everyone into the church on Sunday. This will mean some effort on your part for you own safety.
We have preparations to make for the arrangement of Masses and the church setting. At this time I am asking you for suggestions of Mass times (temporary schedule), during the week and on Sunday. A possible arrangement: Monday, Wednesday, Fridays Mass at Noon; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Mass at 8:00 am. This would give better opportunity for all ages to participate in Mass — early risers and lunch hour. After a few days of the first week we should be more able to estimate attendance on each day, including Sundays. We may have to change the Sunday schedule to give us time to sanitize between Masses. By the way May 25th is Memorial Day. Let me know. Thank you.
WHAT IS GOD UP TO?
Paul and Barnabas, as the word of God relates today (First part of Acts 15), kept announcing the “Good News” wherever they went. Their message was that God was doing something new. He was distributing his graces among the outsiders as well as to visible members of his chosen people. This new action on God’s part calls us to respond with a new faith — not brand new but new and deeper amazement at his wonderful works.
The pandemic has done much the same for us. Our Easter faith has taken a new turn — not entirely new but new to us in his emphasizing that our faith is a shared faith. He has done this by taking away from us for a time our ability to share as we had previously done, especially at the Eucharist. We are not a Church unto ourselves. Our world of faith is personal and individual but not exclusively ours. God is not blessing just me. He does not keep his blessings for me alone. The generous Lord loves others as well and blesses them with remarkable gifts. Not being able to gather together at the Table of the Lord and praise God by sharing together in the mysteries of Christ, his Son, has awaken us to the fact that we are not completely in control of our lives. The Lord above is in charge of my life but also the others whom he blesses.
So we look forward to coming together again at Mass to offer thanksgiving in the midst of the assembly. What a delight that will be! Right now we ask ourselves how we shall do this with greater faith and love. This is where Paul and Barnabas and the whole Church of their time provide some guidance. Watch how they solve the problem of discerning whether circumcision was a necessary requirement of pleasing the God of the Covenant and joining together for worship. They do not try to solve the question with just their human ways but they look to God to reveal to them his wishes — not our human wishes.
We had already heard how, as the number of believers increased, there was a need of ministering to them in such a way that unity was maintained and strengthened. With this question of full observance of all the specific parts of the Mosaic Law God revealed what was more important —what was essential to live the Covenant. The disciples then gathered in Jerusalem. Here unity in God’s ways was the prime concern.
The chose Jerusalem as their meeting place because it was the home of God’s dwelling, the Temple, and it was chosen by him through Jesus to be the place of the perfection of the Covenant through the death and resurrection of the Christ. The Church in Jerusalem was the Mother Church. The answer to the discussion would come forth from the God himself in the historical setting of the Holy City. The Lord is the authority. So the answer will be found in what God is doing rather than in man’s endeavors. This the disciples did. A great step in the faith will result — a shared faith, unity in faith and worship. The pandemic of our time can result in the same.
Next we will hear, through the mouths of the Apostles James and Peter, an authoritative interpretation of what God was doing for our salvation.