Note: This weekend, my parish resumes Sunday Masses for the first time in almost four months.
The other day PBS was re-running their series about Country Music, created by the great Ken Burns. It’s really an extraordinary piece of work, and I encourage you to watch it if you get the chance.
In a special accompanying the series, Burns spoke about how the series was produced over seven years, and all the care and attention that went in to putting it together. At one point, he spoke about music in a way that resonates with each of us today.
“It isn’t just the notes,” he said. “It’s the interval in between.” That, he said, is part of what gives music its power.
For a lot of us, the last few months might be considered “the interval in between.” A time of silence. Stillness. Waiting for what comes next, waiting for the song to go on.
One of the questions we need to ask is: “What has this interval given us?” God hit the pause button, giving us this opportunity to take stock. It has been a time to rethink what we love and how we love. What we hate. What we miss. What we want to be different. What we want to change — in ourselves and in our world.
Personally, I’ve found myself asking some hard questions about my life. What really matters to me? And why?
It isn’t easy. I’ve been working at home. That takes some getting used to, and I still don’t like it. It becomes monotonous. You don’t have a place to go, people to see. The technology can be overwhelming, too. Because we’re all spread out, in different parts of the city, you can’t just get up and walk 20 feet to the next office and ask someone a question. We communicate by Slack or email or Zoom or conference calls or text messages. Nothing is easy anymore. The days all blur into one another.
And one of the hardest parts, of course, is the absence of the sacraments. What we have here and now. The Eucharist. Christ’s Real Presence — body and blood, soul and divinity.
It’s also meant missing this sense of community. For us this means this shared opportunity to pray together, celebrate together, hope together.
We have been living in the silence between the notes. The music has been missing.
What a blessing it is to do this once again.
The first reading captures this emotion for so many of us: “Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Your king shall come to you, a just savior he is, meek and riding on an ass.” How humble he is, our Lord and our God, a just savior, offering himself to us in a sliver of bread.
If we missed the message, Jesus underlines it in the Gospel:
“I am meek and humble of heart.”
In his humility, Jesus is close to us.
We’ve all been humbled the last few weeks. We’ve been reminded that we can’t always control our lives, our fates, where we go, what we do, how we live. Something you can’t even see with the naked eye, a virus, can change everything, everywhere. It can make the music stop.
But in our meekness and humility, in our weariness and frustration and hardship, we discover the true source of our freedom and strength.
The God who became one of us invites us to draw close.
“Come to me,” Jesus tells us. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
A common refrain the last couple months has been “We’re all in this together.”
I’d add: we aren’t alone. We are in this with Christ. And he is in it with us.
This weekend, in a particular way, we come to the one who gives us rest, the one who offers us healing and hope. As we prepare to receive him, to open our hands and our hearts for the Eucharist, we open ourselves to the wonder of what we have missed — especially the celebration of this sacrament, the source and summit of our faith.
The interval between the notes has been long. The silence has been hard.
But this afternoon, we rejoice and give thanks. Our King comes to us once again.
And our song goes on.