This week, we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent, This week there is something remarkably different about the Church. We cover all of the statues. It might seem like an odd tradition, but I think it’s important to grasp why we cover the statues. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal suggests that statues are covered for the last two weeks of Lent. The tradition originated many years ago during the old mass. The reading for this Sunday in those days included John 11:54 “Jesus no longer walked in public among the Jews” (because they were plotting to kill him.) So from this point on, until Good Friday, his statues are covered, as a symbol how the human race can push Jesus away. It’s a scary thought, perhaps the scariest reality of Holy Week is that we really can and do push Jesus away.
I know this has been a very tough Lent on everyone. I know many people are struggling with their faith right now. As we approach Holy Week, I think it’s good for us to remember that even the Apostles struggled with their faith at times. Our Savior Jesus Christ took a man who, when confronted, denied him three times, and made him into the rock on which he would build his Church. At the day of the crucifixion, all the apostles fled. When we feel like all is lost, like throwing in the towel, like giving up, like walking away from Jesus Christ and his Church...we’re in good company. Yet, somehow after the Resurrection, they found the faith to stand up and for all but St. John, went on to give everything to Jesus, including their very lives. I often wonder, how do you move from denying Jesus, to being crucified upside down because you felt unworthy to die in the same way he did? I think two things, grace, and failure. It was the very fact that he failed, and felt the same of having abandoned his Lord, that drove him to see the grace to continue. We can do the same thing whenever we fail in some way, and the answer is the same, ask forgiveness, and keep trying to do the best we can do. Even the woman caught in adultery in the story today. Even with her sins, Jesus offered her a new start and she became a disciple. No matter what we’ve done, if we’ve sinned badly, if we’ve run away, Jesus always wants us back. The question is...do we want him.
This Thursday , we will have a penance service. We’ll have at least 3 other priests in, Fr. Joe Fleming from Mt. Union, Fr. Don Duza from Bedford, and Fr. Joe Nale will be returning. I hope you will consider joining us. At a time like this, we all need to remember our own faults and failings, together ask forgiveness for our own sins, so that we can all work together for good as best we can, prepared with a clean conscience for Holy Week.