This can be scary for many, and we must focus on what Jesus said to the disciples at their moment of uncertainty, "Peace be with you."
Almost two months after Jesus' death, the disciples are still reeling from the death of their friend. They are unsure about their own safety and what lies ahead for them. They are exhausted from what has happened and the effort to maintain their focus and vigilance. So, what do they do? They lock themselves away in fear of the unknown and anxiously wonder what is next. Would they face the same fate as their friend? Would it ever be safe to emerge from their locked room?
Two thousand years later and we are experiencing much of that same concern as the world begins to open up. This last year, people watched friends and loved ones become sick or die, lose jobs or struggle to pay rent. These have been challenging times, and the day after this article is published, Massachusetts state-mandated restrictions will expire. The doors will be unlocked.
After over a year of disinfecting, not touching anyone or anything, and ubiquitous face coverings, it all ends. Like the disciples, we have been locked away, but it is time to go out in the world. This can be scary for many, and we must focus on what Jesus said to the disciples at their moment of uncertainty, "Peace be with you."
People have faced various levels of loss, anxiety, sickness, and impact from this pandemic, and everyone will have a different reaction as we return to a world without restrictions. For some, this weekend will be met with joy and relief. Others may continue to live in fear or experience a renewed sense of loss as they partake in activities for the first time without a person they love.
Regardless of where people are coming from, there is one common thread -- people are tired. This pandemic has been physically and emotionally challenging for everyone. Some experienced it more than others, but these last 15 months impacted every person. Even some of the most joy-filled moments of life were sources of stress and anxiety. Think of that young mother who had to be isolated as a baby grew inside her, her husband not able to join her for appointments, and having no one able to visit or celebrate when the baby is born. Powerful moments like this or simple acts like going to a restaurant or going to school have been different, and it has been exhausting.
During these challenging days, Catholic schools provided a sense of normalcy and continuity for students and families. Although not a typical year, schools and families embraced what could be done safely and with the required protocols. Catholic school teachers and leaders showed what it means to put children first. Since last March, they have been non-stop working to keep their students on track academically, emotionally, and spiritually. I know they are tired; their tireless efforts have made all the difference.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it will be easy to see what could have or should have been done differently. In time, this will be an important conversation, but that conversation is not for today. As the restrictions are lifted, and the world begins to return to normal, the first thing to do is to take a deep breath and allow the peace that Jesus offered his disciples to enter our hearts.
Jesus not only offers his disciples peace in that locked room, but he also offers them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive. As we emerge from these dark days and the world opens up, let's be ready to forgive and to share that peace Jesus offered 2000 years ago.
- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.
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