By Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ
Gospel: The Passion According to Matthew
Early in life, we learn the lesson that there are moments that we can miss and there is no going back again. This insight shows up in our phrases and even can be conveyed in a person’s tone of voice:
This admonition is found in the gospel account of the foolish virgins who end up locked out of the wedding party as they had fallen asleep and did not have the necessary oil for their lamps.
In this time of social distancing, when special events are being put on hold (or even cancelled), it can feel like we are missing out and that we will not be able to go back. This can lead to a frantic desire to make up for “lost time.”
The Scriptures, however, reveal to us that our compassionate God loves surprise endings. He always chooses the weaker team. He plays the long odds. From our football history, we could say that He loves the “Hail Mary” play.
We encounter this today in the Passion according to Matthew.
Did I mention that God likes it when the odds are stacked against Him? God delights in turning our predictable world upside down. As it says in the Passion today, the sun is blotted out. The earth quakes. The dead are seen. It is not enough that God raises his Son; lots of people come from the grave. Even the Roman soldiers are stunned.
Lately, in my personal prayer, I have been reminded of a Scripture from Exodus of the Chosen People from Egypt. The Chosen People are the weakest group at that time in history. They are trapped against the Red Sea and behind them coming at breakneck speed is the strongest army in the world, the Egyptians on fast chariots.
Did I mention that God likes it when the odds are stacked against Him? Amazingly, the Red Sea parts in front of the Chosen People, allowing for their escape and the demise of the Egyptians on chariots.
In Exodus 14:15, the Lord says to Moses: “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the people to go forward!”
Can we not hear this ourselves: “Why are you crying out to me? Go forward!”
The steady Hand of God opens a path in front of us. Can we not see it?