“I Have These Holes”- Homily by Deacon Rick- March 28, 2021

 

Do you know what this past Thursday was?  It was the Feast of the Annunciation. Do you remember what the date was? It was  March 25th,  and Christmas is only nine months away!

On a more serious note, today we heard the familiar story of the passion and death of Jesus. This Palm Sunday we read the Passion of Christ as a reminder of what he sacrificed for us, to save us from our sinfulness. We as Christians all believe that Jesus rose from the dead Easter morning, fulfilling the scripture prediction, and that during the next forty days he met with his remaining disciples, continuing to teach them, sending his Holy Spirit to dwell within them and guide them and give them the words to preach the Gospel message and establish his Church here on earth. This is what Easter is all about.

In the foyer of the church there is a handout titled “I Have These Holes,” a poem written by Anne Peterson. I have this hanging in my office at home. I found this poem very relevant today, speaking to me about suffering during this last year of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even relating to the events here at St. Mary’s over the last couple of years.

Let me read this poem to you:

 

“I Have These Holes”

by Anne Peterson 1994

Last night my sadness woke me up,
and I sobbed uncontrollably.
The world was sleeping,
so I turned to the Lord for conversation.

I feel like I’m getting my life together Lord, except for these holes.
The losses I have had left these holes in me,
and now my life keeps seeping out the holes.

I’ve tried filling the holes with all kinds of things;
busyness, food, sympathy from others,
But nothing works, I still have these holes.

And the grief from memories past enveloped me again,
And I sat rocking myself, holding myself,
trying to give comfort to my pain,
Wanting to gain understanding.

This pain sure hurts, Lord.
And then as early morning came,
I heard Him softly call my name,
with nail-scarred hands outstretched to me,
He said so very tenderly, “I have holes too”.
And then I knew,
He understood as no one could.[1]

 

In February of last year, we were beginning out Lenten preparation just as we did every year. Ash Wednesday was a normal Ash Wednesday with all of us receiving ashes on out foreheads during Mass, committing ourselves to give something up for Lent, and hearing about the three things we should do during Lent; fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Easter was six weeks away and life was relatively normal. Then the pandemic struck.

Within days our nation was shutdown. Schools closed and went virtual for those who were ready. Businesses and restaurants closed putting countless people out of work. Our churches were closed and the bishop gave us a dispensation from Sunday Mass because we could not gather as a community. We were asked to isolate from one another, limit travel, wear a mask, wash your hands, wash your hands and wash your hands. Commodities became scarce. Who would have thought that toilet paper would disappear from store shelves and meat qualities would be restricted at grocery stores? I have these holes.

We now found ourselves sitting at home trying to reinvent our family life. The kids were trying to attend virtual school. Mom and Dad were working from home. Bandwidth was stretched to the max. Meeting with friends was not allowed. Sports activities ground to a halt. We were told not to have family gatherings for Easter, or as time went on, for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and summer family picnics. We were becoming more and more isolated in our homes. Travel almost completely stopped. Airlines reduced capacity by over 80%. People were not driving as much, as indicated by rebates some insurance companies were giving drivers for their car insurance. States were restricting travel between each other and quarantining was becoming the norm. I have these holes.

We were unable to visit loved ones in nursing homes. Many of us knew of someone who had tested positive for Covid, or who were sick enough to be hospitalized or who lost a loved one to Covid-19. Weddings and funerals were postponed. And we here at St. Mary’s were just starting to come out of our funk from the previous two years of scandal that affected our parish and from the leadership betrayals and letdowns that left us deeply divided and conflicted and in a spiritual crisis. Our parish was in both spiritual and financial trouble. Our ministries were unable to gather to pray together and support one another. We had the feeling that we were now alone in this deeply troubled world around us. We have been abandoned. I have these holes.

Yet during this time God was still with us, walking among those who called on him through prayer. As we slowly reopened our campus, first the church, then the school and now the parish center, parishioners are beginning to come back to St. Mary’s. But I have to admit, that despite the fallout from the pandemic, we as a parish still held out hope during this past year as evidenced by the very successful virtual parish picnic, and the success of the giving tree at Christmas and the participation in the Parish Sunday Dinners. Online groups formed to pray the rosary, or meditate with Lectio Divina, or continue a virtual bible study. Some even meet outside, socially distanced, just to see each other and pray together.

We as a parish were suffering with all kinds of holes. Our lifeblood was slowly draining out. We felt ourselves wondering if our lives would ever get back to normal or the new normal as everyone is now talking about. I have these holes.

So what am I trying to say here in the homily? That Jesus understands what we are going through. Today he accepted the holes in his hands to save us from our sinfulness. We need to recognize that the holes in our hands are temporary and with prayer we can overcome the loneliness, the spiritual desert we may be experiencing. I have these holes.

As we enter this Holy Week, take advantage of the rich liturgies that are being offered here at St. Mary’s as we do every year. Holy Thursday come and participate in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00pm and the procession after Mass as we take Jesus, present in the Eucharist, to a place of repose in the chapel. Stay for a little while praying before the Eucharist. On Good Friday there will be Stations of the Cross at noon, followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which will begin the novena that ends on Divine Mercy Sunday. At three o’clock we will offer the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion with the veneration of the cross and reception of Holy Communion. And at seven o’clock we will once again have our rendition of the Seven Last Words of Christ. Saturday there will be a blessing of food baskets at noon. And then join us at 8:00pm for the special Easter Vigil Mass. Note there is no 4:00pm Mass on Saturday. And of course, be sure to join us on Easter Sunday morning as we rejoice in our risen Lord with the usual Sunday Mass schedule, with additional Masses in the chapel at 9:30am and 11:30am.

 

“With nail-scarred hands outstretched to me,
He said so very tenderly, “I have holes too”.
And then I knew
He understood as no one could.”[2]

 

Amen.

 

 

[1] I Have These Holes, Anne Peterson, 1994
[2] I Have These Holes, Anne Peterson, 1994