The reading of this beautiful text, which is actually a meditation that has as background the text of Mark 16:1-9, has been a true spiritual experience for me .
The Pope shows us that the difficult situation we are living in these days compares to the heavy stone that stood before the tomb and, like the women who went to the tomb, we ask ourselves, “Who will roll back the stone?” (Mark 16:3). How do we advance in this situation that completely overwhelms us? It is the heaviness of the tombstone that is imposed on the future and that threatens, with its realism, to bury all hope.
The women did not suspect that inside the tomb was not death, but Life: the Risen Christ; the Risen One who wants to resurrect the women and, with them, all of humanity. The Pope invites us to contemplate the risen Christ present in this situation of suffering and pain. To contemplate Christ not as a powerful and triumphant being, calm and happy, oblivious to human suffering, but as a silent, powerless, and humiliated person who suffers with us the pain, the darkness, and even death itself (cf. José Antonio Pagola: “No te bajes de la cruz” [“Do not come down from the cross”]); Christ present in the pandemic’s victims.
Unlike many apostles who fled in fear and insecurity, who denied the Lord and escaped (cf. John 18:25-27), the women were able to move and not allow themselves to be paralyzed by what was happening. The women of today are like those women, not fleeing with the illusion of saving themselves, but being willing to serve even heroically. Who are they? Doctors, nurses, caretakers, transporters, security forces, volunteers, scientists seeking antivirus vaccines, those who pray for others, those who spread hope, priests, men and women religious; through them, authentic passages from the tombstone, God is acting, curing and healing, determined to regenerate beauty and give rebirth to hope: “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).
Personally, I think that, providentially, God is allowing the Church in this difficult hour “to leave,” as Saint Vincent de Paul said, “God for God.” Leave God present in the sacraments for God present in the life project that the Gospel proposes to us: unite the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom to living with a strong sense of community that unites individuals and families so that, like the first Christians, it cares for orphans and widows, looks after the sick and the elderly, the disabled, and those without means of livelihood, has a fund for the funeral of the poor and a service for times of epidemic. A great challenge for the Church in the future will be to know how to unite God present in the sacraments, in the church, and in the rites, with God present in the brothers and sisters, especially in the poor and needy (cf. Matthew 25:31-45). To be truly the Church of the poor.
Providentially, God is also allowing the Church in this time of pandemic to have inventiveness and imagination in her pastoral work, well aware that, as Saint Vincent de Paul also said, “love is inventive to infinity.” We are observing this with spiritual joy in these days in our Archdiocese of Lima.
“This is the propitious time,” Pope Francis says very well in ‘A plan for rising up again,’ “to encourage us to a new imagination of what is possible with the realism that only the Gospel can provide. The Spirit, who does not allow himself to be enclosed or manipulated with fixed or obsolete schemes, modalities, and structures, proposes that we join his movement capable of ‘making all things new’ (Revelation 21:5) … We cannot afford to write the present and future history with our backs turned to the suffering of so many. It is the Lord who will ask us again ‘where is your brother?’” (Genesis 4:9).
José Antonio Ubillús Lamadrid, CM
San Isidro, 29 April 2020
As a manuscript