Sunday, April 12, 2020

Lockdown to Freedom

Sermon for the Day of Resurrection

Alleluia! He is risen!

But is He invading your privacy?


A popular theme among Paschal sermons this year will be the appearance of Our Lord to the Disciples behind locked doors. We know that the Disciples are in hiding for fear of the Jews just as we are in hiding for fear of the virus. Jesus appears to them despite the doors being shut. One wonders whether He will wash His hands to two verses of Happy Birthday.

The fact is that Our Lord chooses to appear behind closed doors to His Disciples rather than out in public. He could also conceivably appear in Pontius Pilate's house, or in Caiaphas' bedroom. Why not? It would be such a statement for Him to appear behind the locked doors of the people who crucified Him. But He doesn't.

Doesn't this reticence to appear and challenge those who speak against Him make the job of proclaiming the Gospel difficult?

Why behind closed doors? Why not in public where all doubt can be removed? Doesn't He want people to know Him for certain?


It seems that the Lord is a respecter of privacy. It is only to those who have invited Him into their lives that He appears in His post-crucifixion glory. Strictly speaking, we have no privacy with God. Even the thoughts of our inmost hearts are known by God. Indeed, God knows what it is like to be us because He has given being to us in the first place. This means He has nothing to prove to those who hate Him. 

On the Cross, the Lord displays His love for us in the fullest way that one human being can show another. There is no way we fallen human beings can see a greater love until we can see God as He is. And Love does not insist on its own way. Our Lord can be locked out of the room by those who are as afraid of Him as the Disciples are afraid of the Jews and as we are afraid of the virus.

Pharaoh keeps his heart locked to God, but soon finds that he could not open it even if he wanted to: the door has rusted shut This is a warning to those who refuse to believe.


There is another side to this, though. This is such good news for those that love God. Even in a lockdown, He is still with you. You might not receive the Blessed Sacrament, but there is nothing to say that this is the only way that Christ can be present with you. The sacraments are given to us by God as certain vehicles of His grace: that does not mean that they are the only vehicles of His grace.

In lockdown, we can expect God to be present to us at this wonderful time of year, just as He is present for us at the Mass. Our doors may be locked, but our hearts need not be. As our faith grows in the uncertainty of a world infected not only by viruses, but more horribly with Sin and Death, the more our hearts can open to receive more.


Of course, just as opening the door risks letting in the virus, so opening our hearts risks great pain. But Our Lord's heart was opened with a spear and so He knows our pain. And He suffers our pain. And He releases us from our pain. The fear is gone. The doors fling open. The light shines in.

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

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