“The disciples, seeing the Lord, were full of JOY.”
John 20, 20
I had no intention of writing a Pentecost message this year, because, “according to plan”, at this time we would have been celebrating our 15th General Chapter in the Motherhouse in Steyl. But these days, nothing is “according to plan”. Most of us are locked down in our respective provinces/regions, while others cannot return to their mission places because of the present travel restrictions. Many meetings and programs, including our 15th General Chapter, have been postponed or even cancelled. At the same time, we have increased our capacity to communicate online, to organize conversations and meetings as individuals, leadership teams, and organizations. We are getting used to online classes as teachers and students, to online shopping, and even to online liturgies and celebrations.
I am sure you all remember the powerful images and gestures of Pope Francis during Holy Week and Easter, as he invited all of us to stay united in prayer and solidarity with the sick, the poor, and the marginalized. Individually and as communities, provinces and regions, we are spending additional time for prayer, asking God to help humanity to end this Pandemic, to protect doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers, to be with us as we try to avoid spreading the virus by keeping social distance and following the regulations given by governments.
At times we feel overwhelmed by the daily news about the rate of new infections and death in our own countries as well as worldwide. But we also gratefully notice the creativity of so many people who express their sentiments and solidarity in concrete actions. Amid all that is happening, creation does not seem to be negatively affected by the Pandemic. On the contrary, trees and plants appear greener than ever, the sky is blue and the waters are clearer. We can hear the sounds of birds and other creatures better because traffic noise is lessened.
In this reality, we are preparing for Pentecost. More than ever, we long to feel the presence of the Risen Lord in all that we experience and to find meaning in it. In the Gospel of Pentecost Sunday, we read, “The disciples, seeing the Lord, were full of Joy.” Jesus entered their community, in spite of locked doors, bringing peace, joy and the power to forgive. He did not allow them to be stuck in their fears and worries, in their painful experiences of suffering and death, but rather, he encouraged them to go out in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Dear Sisters, let us ask the Risen Lord to breathe on us anew, so that we too can recognize Him in the midst of suffering and death, fear and uncertainty and in the whole of creation. With peace and joy in our hearts we are able to reach out to those in need with hope, courage and creativity, each one according to her circumstances and capacity. Thank you for all your efforts to be a healing presence in our wounded world, no matter how small or big they are. Spending time before the Lord in prayer is as important as contacting lonely people in isolation and as valuable as patiently accepting the consequences of social distancing. Your efforts are deeply appreciated, whether you are creating small projects to help the poor and needy; preparing our institutions to give professional help to people affected by the virus; maintaining a protective environment for our elderly and sick sisters; or teaming up with other organizations and our mission partners. Thank you!
In all this, may you experience the deep Joy of the disciples as they realized the presence of the Risen Lord in their midst.
Blessed Joy-filled Pentecost 2020 to all of you, to your families, friends and mission partners,
Sr. Maria Theresia SSpS