Fifth Sunday of Easter Acts, 6:1-7, Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19, 1 Pt 2:4-9, Jn 14:1-12
Since parish life has changed so radically, we can really talk about our parishes in terms of B.C. and A.C. — Before COVID-19 and After COVID-19.
I hear in a whole new context Peter extolling us, “… like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pt 2:5).
Peter first identifies Jesus as the living stone, the true temple, that the Father has given to serve as the foundation of God’s own house.He then makes the jump to identify us as living stones as well.This identity obviously makes sense when we experience our communion with Christ through the reception of the Eucharist.
But how do we understand or experience the reality of this communion in a time when most of us are receiving Christ only through the means of Spiritual Communion?
A parishioner told me that one of the things they have struggled with is jealousy at the sight of the few ministers who received Communion at our livestreamed Easter Mass. They were angry because they felt the pain of not being able to physically receive the Eucharist.
It is an understandable and even commendable pain. But how do we participate in being living stones in the life and ministry of Christ in a time of only Spiritual Communion?
Not receiving Eucharist physically does not stop us from being living stones since we are configured to Christ by our baptism, and in that baptism given the task of helping to build up the Body of Christ.
Not receiving Eucharist physically does not stop us from being a community of priests. Each of us acts as a priest as we attend Mass by livestream, by bringing with us our lives, our familiesand our prayers for the needs of the sick, our communities and those who do not pray. We share in the mediation of Christ as we bring to the sacrifice of the Mass that which only we can bring.
Spiritual Communion is a real way of being in communion with Christ. Although not ideal or the fullness of what communion with Christ is intended to be, it is nonetheless a powerful tool by which we can still fulfill our call to be living stones, a royal priesthood.
In the aftermath of the stay-at-home orders our economy will need to be rebuilt. But even more importantly, the task of building the house of God, of building the people of God, goes on and indeed needs to be intensified in the wake of this virus.
If the house of God has been damaged by this time in which we have not been able to gather, it must be repaired. If the faithful have been fractured by the stresses of this time, they will need to be built up.
Until we can gather again, Spiritual Communion is a powerful tool in taking up the task that has been given to us by Christ.
Jesus calls us to be living stones. He needs us to be living stones in this time. He needs you. Let yourself be built into a spiritual house through Spiritual Communion.
Msgr. Timothy Keeney is pastor of Incarnation, Charlottesville.