22 April 2020

Thank you to Br. Richard Green for sharing this reflection with us. Brother Richard is a Carmelite friar, currently living in the CISA community, in Rome.

In Matthew's Gospel, there's a point where one of the religious scholars asks Jesus a question:

“Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
(Matt 22:36-40, GNB)

As I write this, it's 46 days since I last left the house. I'm locked down in Rome, in a Carmelite house which is full of friars, most of whom are doing further study at one of the universities in the city. It's a roomy house, and there is plenty of company, so we're in better conditions than many people, but it has still been a very strange Easter.

One of the things I'm grateful for is that this is an age when there is easy communication. I can phone my family, and know that they're OK, I can 'meet' online with friends, and see them and we can share photos of our Sunday lunch. When I do this, people ask me how things are in Italy, and what's happening, and I have to answer that I don't have the faintest idea. Just like everybody back home, all I know is what I see on the television and in the newspapers. I know more about the cauliflower cheese that my friend had with her lunch 1200 miles from here, than I do about what's happening at the end of my road.

This is part of the strangeness of this situation. There are so many situations that I see, or read about where people are in need, or they are suffering, and there's nothing I can do. The need to do something to help, even if it's something very small is really deeply embedded in the way we live our lives. We've heard so many times about how words without actions are meaningless, and suddenly so many of us can't act. We don't have the skills needed, or we can't leave home, or there is some other barrier in the way. And this helplessness feels horrible.

Even if we can't do anything else, we can still love. And as Jesus made clear when he was asked that question about the most important commandment, that is the most important thing. The concern that we all feel when we watch the news is a sign that we really do love our neighbours. Even if we can't express this love in any practical way at the moment, it's still real. It's still there. Even in our isolation, even if we can't help, we can still follow Jesus in some way.

Let us pray..

“The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Amen (Numbers 6:24-26)

SAINT JUDE, PRAY FOR US