By Anne Carraux
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. ~ Luke 4:14-21
As I write today, Minnesota winter lifts the spirit with a brilliant combination of sun, radiant blue sky, and fresh snow. The mood in our home matches the cheer outside, which is odd considering we learned this morning that we are facing yet another quarantine for our family of six.
Cancellations this week will include work, school, sports, and parties—and a treasured trip for this wife and her husband with our kids in the care of a family friend.
This last one was a hard one to take.
But we have done this before, and the Lord has made us strong. As we woke up to the news of a positive test, my husband and I hugged and felt our disappointment. We tinkered quietly in the kitchen. He shoveled snow, and I botched a loaf of banana bread. Our kids, now primarily teenagers, woke up, and we delivered the quarantine news. They each faced their cancellation moments or realization of increased pressures.
We slowed down.
We delivered hugs.
In the face of difficult news and what had first been a bleak-looking Saturday, the sun began to emerge.
I saw the Lord moving in us.
Our daughter smiled and asked her little brother if he wanted to play a game. Her heart knew that special role of being an encourager when the day didn’t hold precisely what had been planned.
Our son melted into a snuggly state. He carried his fourth-grade book around and read, sitting first next to one person, then another, just sharing the treasure of physical connection even while doing his own thing.
We FaceTimed our sickest family member in his room and caught up on symptoms and medicine. We ordered his favorite sandwich and sent it to the isolation zone.
Another son made a charcuterie for the rest of us for lunch.
We each did our part.
We gave a little more than usual of ourselves, and we accepted the gift of family life a little more than usual.
We stepped, for the hours of early quarantine, into our best selves in the Spirit, the different people God calls us to be as contributing parts of the body of Christ.
I imagine that your family is cataloging pandemic stories like ours. The strain of distance learning, social separation, canceled events, and postponed dreams is growing long. We are weary, yet we are stronger than we knew we were three years ago.
I look at today’s second reading differently, prayerfully as I consider our ongoing trials:
“…God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. If one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor 12:12-30).
As the sun streams through my window, I know my family, and yes, even our world, has learned much; alas, I am keenly aware we have much more to learn.
My prayer is that we all learn to respond with less division and more unity as members of the body of Christ. Perhaps, my own little family needed to hear and respond to that same call, therefore, sharing in the joy more than the suffering.
Jesus, You have anointed us with Your holy love and we receive You in the sacraments. You see our weary hearts and our disappointments and You love us deeply at the moment we are in. Thank You for the gift of Your peace and love. Thank You for the gift of understanding the treasure of community especially in times of separation. Jesus, teach us to operate with no division in the body; to give more of ourselves through You than we ordinarily are able to do. Your Sacred Heart will envelop us and unite us. Jesus, we trust in You.
Call to Action
This week, I challenge you to move beyond yourself to honor someone in the body of Christ. If the person you choose is someone you haven’t seen eye to eye with in the past, possibly this effort is even more beautiful. Share some flowers, send a hand-written note, or double the batch of spaghetti sauce and send warmth into another heart. Offer a prayer to Jesus for the one whom you serve in the body of Christ. Maybe our efforts at unity are how we can all heal from these difficult years. God bless you!
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