Stay close to him and don’t be afraid because when we stay close to Jesus we always get to the resurrection and we will in this time too.”
Fr Paul Farren, Director of the Derry Diocesan Catechetical Centre, celebrated Mass for the Diocesan Schools Community, Wednesday 8th April 2020, acknowledging the end of Term Two of the school year, the ‘very different Easter’ we would be celebrating and offering prayers for the past pupils of all schools who are frontline workers at this time.
This homily is intended to help the diocesan school community to find ways to stay close to Jesus at this time of the Coronavirus.
Homily – School Mass, Spy Wednesday, Holy Week 2020.
The beginning of the holidays is always very exciting. We go from the routine of school to no routine. We plan trips. We plan visits. We plan activities. It’s all different.
This Easter it is all different too but it is different in a very different way. We can’t go to school. We don’t have that routine. We are trying to be at school at home and it probably isn’t that easy. We can’t go anywhere. The sun is shining and we can’t go too far from the house. We can’t meet up with our friends. We can’t go and visit our grandparents or our cousins or anybody. It’s all different. It is about isolation and distance. We don’t like isolation and we don’t want to be distant. We want to be together. Some of us are also afraid and anxious about this virus. So it can be a very difficult time. We would love if everything just suddenly went back to normal.
The way we are at Mass today is not normal either. The Cathedral is empty but I know that you are all out there praying but it is not normal!
If we listen to the Gospel today life was not normal for Jesus at this time either. His life was about to change and change dramatically. He was going to be betrayed by Judas and separated from his friends. He was going to be isolated in a cell before Good Friday. Jesus always had his friends around him but this week – Holy Week – he is isolated from them. There is a distance between them. This causes Jesus great pain. He doesn’t like to be separated from his friends – isolated from them.
This time must cause Jesus great pain too. He loves to come to us in Holy Communion. He loves to come into our lives when we receive his Precious Body and his Precious Blood at Mass. Our First Holy Communion Day is a great day of joy for us and for our families but it such a day of great joy for Jesus too.
At this time when we are separated from some of our family and our friends and our school we are also separated from Jesus in Holy Communion and this makes Jesus so sad and he looks forward to the day when we can all come back to Mass.
Yet even in this time of separation from Holy Communion Jesus is still with us in other ways. Jesus lives in our heart. He is in our soul. He is in your house. He doesn’t bother with social distancing and isolation in your heart. He is right there. When you feel afraid or anxious talk to him in prayer and even when you are feeling good talk to him in prayer. Tell him every day how much you are looking forward to getting back to Mass and receiving him in Holy Communion. Join Jesus for the Easter Ceremonies on the webcam in your own parish or this parish or some parish. Stay as close to Jesus as possible at this time.
More than that there is another thing you can do in this difficult time. Help one another as best you can. Phone people up and say hello to them. Make sure that everybody is ok and they have all they need. Do things to bring joy and happiness into other people’s lives. Find new ways of doing this every day.
We have to be so thankful – so grateful for all the people – especially past pupils from your school who are now doing life saving work at the front line of fighting this virus. When you are working out what God is calling you do with your life you can be sure that he is calling you to do something that will help other people.
So the Easter holidays are beginning and it is different and it is strange but it is still the Easter holidays when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Stay close to him and don’t be afraid because when we stay close to Jesus we always get to the resurrection and we will in this time too.