What hope we have, even in the longest night, for the light will overcome. We will not fear, for we know the sun will rise. Hallelujah is our song. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! He is risen over all. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah is our song.

This past week my family was engaged in a thoughtful, scholarly debate on the next steps out of safer-at-home. There were some significant differences of opinion on the effectiveness of the current restrictions, the role of personal freedoms, the balance between opening businesses vs. preventing infection, how to protect medical personnel, and whether our leadership in Wisconsin has been doing the right thing. Since the discussion happened over text message, it provided a good forum for us to carefully listen to each other, clarify the various positions, and find some common ground together.

Who am I kidding, right? I love my family and they are all thoughtful, intelligent, and caring people. But these are scary times. From overwhelmed ERs to overwhelmed families, generous acts of selflessness and fighting over items in the grocery story, a crisis brings out the best and the worst in us. I know I’ve been seeing both the best and worst in me. I hope I’ve been keeping the worst to myself and just sharing the best with you. Many of you have been making generous financial contributions and sharing encouraging words, such as this note in an Easter card:

Thank you for all you are doing to keep us connected to Jesus and each other in this strange time in our lives. Your homilies have been such a gift to all of us. May God bless you for all that you do for his people.

It is humbling to see my own difficult moments and also encouraging to see the good we are doing together. One analyst was saying there will most certainly be more divorces and more babies born as a result of quarantine (hopefully to different couples :-). This perfectly underscores the effect of a crisis. A crisis can drive us further apart, or bring us closer together. What hope DO we have? We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) We pray and hope that our leaders are doing the right thing, because getting this wrong will be bad for all of us. But ultimately our hope is in God, and him alone. Is this situation bringing you closer to others or driving you farther from them? Is it bringing you closer to God, or driving you farther from God? Some of you have been sharing with me where you saw God recently or signs of new life. I find those very encouraging. Keep noticing those little signs and keep sharing them. Keep looking for the good in each other. May Jesus be our hope, our strength, and our light.

Peace and Easter joy,
Fr. Joel