?”And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and grew gardens full of fresh food, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”?

    Poem by Kitty O’Meara

And the Officers, Troopers, Agents, EMTs,  firemen, support staff, medical personnel – and countless others – working together – like a seemless garment –  with little regard for self – tirelessly fought  the battle against the invisible but seemingly omnipotent enemy known as the corona virus.

We’ve learned once again that true heroes wear badges and belts, scrubs and masks  and also carry hoses, and heavy gear.  This Easter day we celebrate them in a special way!

The Easter Story!    

Mary Magdalene – possessed by demons – as we all are in some way – or another – was freed  by them by Jesus. Mary, first to the Tomb dark, lonely, images and memories of death, the mark of suffering.  The stone, probably weighing 1 to 2 tons,  was moved.  Light shone in. She would learn that light also shone out. “They’ve taken  the Lord!  How  when?, to where?  

Peter and John (the other disciple), ran to the tomb.  John, the younger one, probably about 19 or 20, waited for Peter, who was older and slower.  Though he denied Jesus 3 times, now regretful and sorrowful, he was still respected as the “primus inter pares” – the first among equals.  They saw the burial cloths , rolled up and undisturbed – as if the body had evaporated from them.  

Two thousands years later, scientists, studying the  Shroud of Turin,  believed by the Church and millions, to be the burial shroud of  Jesus, would trace flashes of light – supernatural emenations – on the garment – not from the outside in , but from the inside out. Then John entered the tomb. He SAW and BELIEVED.   They did not understand, “connect the dots”, comprehend, that “He had to rise from the dead.”  But  He did. And He promised we would also if we believe in Him. And be with our loved ones again.   There can be no Easter Sunday without a Good  Friday.

Forget not Mary, the Blessed Mother, mother of Jesus. She who would wrap her baby child in swaddling clothes, also wrapped the body of her crucified Son, our Savior, in a burial shroud.   Mothers and fathers of too many of our First Responders and Public Safety Personnel, and medical personnel,  have sadly had to do the same thing, especially of late.

The Cross casts it’s dark shadow over all of human history.  To those with faith, it’s simply a violent murder / assassination of a foolish man who died thinking he was someone that he wasn’t. To we who believe, He was the Son of God and Son of Man who gave his life for us in an incredible, consummate act of love – not for naught, but for our eternal destiny.

Now – Easter and New Life conquers.  Even all of  creation  echoes  the reality. Easter means “fresh flowers.”  As  our world blossoms and blooms we celebrate the Feast.  Jesus is Risen and all creation with him.  Have hope. This virus will succumb to the rebirth of creation in this Springtime.  There is  life, there is death, but, more powerfully, there is Resurrection! This is the Paschal Mystery.  Violence overcome  through the power of redemptive suffering, redemptive love.  You Officers, Troopers, Agents, EMT’s,  Firemen, other  First Responders; Doctors, nurses, technicians – all related personnel  and your families – you do this all the time!  ‘Perhaps called by another name. But, all the same, it’s because the Spirit of God is in you.  To you, for you – in a special way today – we give thanks.  As St. Mother Teresa said many times:  “Let no suffering go to waste. “ May it always be offered as act of love to God, for another. Surely, we know Jesus’ sacrifice  was. And we pray, ours as well.

Our experiences so often teach us: “We can’t see the stars until we kiss the scars.”

At this extraordinary Easter Sunday Mass, in a  rectory  basement Chapel  in Pennsauken, NJ – not totally unlike a first century catacomb  – we honor you all involved in Law Enforcement,   First Responders, Medicine and public safety.  Your vocation is not only a sacrifice for you, but also for your families, in an often risky and reckless culture.  The word “sacrifice”   is derived from 2 Latin words: sacrum facere – to make holy. This is very appropriate, for when you sacrifice for another, especially out of love, it is a holy act.

A virus is contagious, but so is  compassion..

The parish church is closed for now but your “family church is open.”  Gather together, share together, pray together each day for your own family and the families of others. We belong to each other. Especially in this difficult time we learn that “we often remember those we laugh with; we never forget we cry with.

We are one nation under God. Sometimes tragedy  seems to remind us of that reality more than prosperity.  A wise and seasoned man wrote  after World War II:  “When men don’t worship God, they worship each other.”  Let us focus and pray to the right God, the Resurrected Christ.

You often find yourselves going to the tombs of illness, violence, addiction and loss in our society,  expecting to encounter darkness and despair. So often  because of your tireless and unwavering commitment to Life,  with the Grace of God, you transform  death to life, and pending despair and grief to gratefulness and celebration. Take not for granted the good you do, the difference, you make, the sacred call that is yours.  When the loss is inevitable, be at peace that you’ve done your best. Grieve, reflect, pray at the Cross of loss, then open your eyes to the resurrections yet to come.  Be the Risen Jesus to and for each other. Many will not understand how you embrace the Light of Resurrection when the darkness of death, apathy and complacency  sometimes surrounds you.   Even in this time of “social distancing” we can still “hug with our eyes”  and  “smile with our hearts.” “Always preach the Gospel,” as St. Francis of Assisi said, “and when necessary, use words.”

They “saw and believed.”  So have you.   God love you all !     Happy Easter!