11th December 2020 Sharing Reflections
As we journey closer towards the great Feast of Christmas we look back on a very different year from normal. Everything that we took for granted stopped abruptly with the Prime Minister’s announcement that lockdown would be put into effect. The Churches would close along with everything else and the Easter Triduum would take place behind closed doors. Easter as a community was cancelled. Like most priests I celebrated the Triduum in the company of the angels. The normal community was absent so it was, to start with depressing. I had placed palm leaves down the main aisle, one to represent each parishioner. As the ceremonies unfolded, as I sang in a church absent of other people, it struck me just how keenly we need each other. Chanting the Exultet in the church with only the Paschal candle illuminating the darkness, perhaps for the best, as it is the one melody I cannot keep in my head, envisioning the angels covering their ears! The light of the Paschal candle suddenly reminded me of Calvary, Christ the one true light surrounded by enveloping darkness, but a darkness that could not and cannot extinguish that light. By Easter Sunday morning that light shone brightly again amongst the isolation because I knew in spirit we were still joined together in faith, hope and, hopefully, charity.
That charity has been stretched to near breaking point for many through the months of isolation and separation. For some the burden appears too heavy to carry. Things have been done and said, due to the unusual circumstances we have been living under, that normally would never enter our lives. I know I am no saint and my imperfections have pulled me down. The darkness has tried to envelop me and at times it seemed so easy to give in, to go with it. But that light, kindled at the Vigil, shines on, and without us realising, enters again, gives us the strength to carry on, to try and be tolerant, forgiving, and charitable.
We shall emerge from all of this and with God’s grace be stronger because if we have learned anything from this time of trial it is how much we need each other, to be close to each other, to be back to that stage before the virus struck. Even with its ups and downs, fraught by our imperfections we can see clearly that as a living community together we succeed, for alone we can only fail.
May Christmas, however it comes, be a time of joy and be grace filled. Let us implore the Lord to give us the strength we need to eventually draw a line under, forget and forgive the faults of the past year, to start anew, to have that courage to be like our heavenly Father who for all our faults and failings still reaches out the hand of forgiveness and love to each and every one of us.