The Church Dispersed

'As long as the day lasts', says Jesus, 'I must carry out the work of the one who sent me. The night will soon be here when no one can work.'    John 9.4

The time has indeed come when many people are unable to work due to restrictions, which have divided us into two groups of people: those who find themselves twiddling their thumbs with little to do and those who are overstretched, with too much to do.Some may have hoped to be in the former group and find themselves in the latter!

Jesus was faithful to his calling to carry out the work of the one who sent him.He continued his terrestrial mission to display God’s compassion and teach the rule of love, until he left this world to return to the Father. The work he began was delegated to his disciples and that task has been passed on to his church, our Mother Church whom we give thanks for today.  

The church is now dispersed. We are no longer permitted to assemble together. We have gone back to our roots; Christian worship began in a domestic setting, in house-churches.  

Where two or three gather together in my name’ says Jesus, 'there I shall be also’Some of us who live alone cannot even do that.But the church is present too in individuals. St Paul tells us each one of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit, an individual shrine. Though we cannot gather in the venerable churches that we love so much, we see clearly now that we, the living stones, really make the church.

'As long as I am in the world,' says Jesus, I am the light of the world.

Christ remains present in his church, the light still burns beside the blessed sacrament,the Mass and daily prayer are still offered.

St Paul urges us to be children of light; and the effects of light are seen in complete goodness and right living. The situation we are living through will be a test of endurance. While some may welcome the prospect of isolation and quiet days, others may dread them and be anxious as to how they will cope. For some, it will be a blessing to spend more time with partners and family, while for others close confinement with others will bring tension and strain.

A time of crisis can bring out the worst and the best of people. Our natural instinct is one of survival, and we are naturally selfish creatures. But we are also made in the image of God; within us there is a God-given selflessness, that impels us to look out for others and help where we can.

You may recall the advert for confectionery that said, do you love anyone enough to give them your last rollo?’ Now the message might be: ‘do you love anyone enough to give them your last toilet roll?' 

'Love your neighbour as yourself', Jesus tells us. Being a Christian is a challenge to imagine and find out what life is like for other people. One important way in which we can be a good neighbour to others is through verbal contact; if someone does not tell us how they are, we will not know unless we ask them. We have to keep our physical distance, but now our modern means of communication come into their own, even the telephone.

The times ahead will be challenging, but they also present us with opportunities: to do some things differently; to think about what is really important; to think about who is important. We must continue to keep the light of Christ at the centre of our lives, we must keep praying and daily discover what the Lord wants of us.

'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' Jesus asked the man once blind, whose eyes he had opened.

'Tell me who he is', he replied, 'so that I may believe in him.'

'You are looking at him, he is speaking to you.'

'Lord, I believe', said the man

We see Christ still present in his church, and in each other.

He speaks to us still, through the gospel.

Lord, I believe in you.

 

Sunday Readings: 1 Samuel, 16.1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5.8-14, John 9.1-41