This time last year we had our Parish Annual General Meeting in the hall, amidst great concerns about the effects of the Corona Virus as Covid 19 that was spreading worldwide. The last item in the minutes read:
“Guidance for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales relating to coronavirus. This meeting was held with recognition of appropriate distancing of chairs. The Guidance was noted, as well as the fact that the situation is changing all the time. We need to be aware of people in the parish who may self-isolate and be in need of support. Volunteers will be needed. We will explore facilities to download and stream homilies.”
The meeting was held on 15th March 2020 and it was on 23 March 2020 that Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, told the country that people ‘must’ stay at home and certain businesses must close. We only reopened the church for the celebration of Mass on 26th July 2020. What a year it has been which has changed forever the way we see things and the way we do things.
This Sunday afternoon, we are having our AGM but it is by Zoom. I am sure that many of you have been using Apps like Zoom, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams to contact friends and family and conduct meetings. The danger is that those who are not online could become isolated. The AGM is an opportunity to look back on the past year and to plan for the future as well as taking stock of where we are now as a parish.
In the Gospel today, the risen Jesus appears in the room where the disciples were. He reassures them he is no ghost by showing them his wounds and inviting them to touch him. He also eats a piece of broiled fish. Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures; “So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.” This is still the core message, or Good News.
The challenge for us is how we share this message, this truth, in this time of pandemic. It is a challenge for parents in sharing faith with children. It is a challenge for us, in partnership with families, to help to prepare our children and young people for the sacraments of initiation. It is a challenge for us as a parish how we celebrate the liturgy under the present restrictions. It is challenge for us in bringing Christ to the sick, the isolated and the lonely. This time is a challenge to us in helping our children and young people in their education.
We are challenged to look beyond and respond to the acute needs of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Pope Francis in February, addressing members of the Diplomatic Service, drew the Ambassadors’ attention to what he described as perhaps “the most serious of all [crises]: the crisis of human relations,” which has come into sharper focus during the pandemic. “The year 2021 is a time that must not be wasted. And it will not be wasted if we can work together with generosity and commitment. In this regard, I am convinced that fraternity is the true cure for the pandemic and the many evils that have affected us. Along with vaccines, fraternity and hope are, as it were, the medicine we need in today’s world.” The risen Jesus is in our midst calling us to go and witness.