Self Isolation. Quarantined. Why? What? By Whom? To give the reason for being quarantined is multi-layered. On the surface, the reason seems obvious in light of so much information and guidance advocating “social distancing.” The new phrase- social distancing. Haven’t we been socially distant from each other for decades now? Haven’t we been emotionally and psychologically aloof about so many things and towards so many people for decades now? Social distancing may be a new phrase but it is not a new concept. The only difference now, is that it is more obvious – we truly see what we have become – distant, self isolated, quarantined.
I believe everything ; as in absolutely everything, is birthed from the spirit. We manifest what is happening or has happened in the spiritual realm. We have become socially distant because we became distant from our Creator; our Heavenly Father. We became cold but we termed it realistic; we became isolated but we termed it independent. We became trapped in our own body and its concerns. We became eager to satisfy the concupiscence of the flesh. We became trapped in our own sin. Quarantined.
What is Passover
Now for the first time in my generation, I am experiencing how it must have felt like for the Israelites in Egypt. Tonight Jews around the world have celebrated Passover according to the Jewish calendar. If I could transport myself back to Exodus 12, where God’s instruction was given to the Israelites, I would encounter a scene where the Israelites are locked indoors just like us. They seek protection from God just like us, as they take shelter in their homes after smearing the blood on their lintel and doorposts and await in anticipation for their liberation as seen in Exodus 12:22-23. What do we take shelter under? What do we hope for?
Tonight is a special night. It is the Passover night -“Pesach”. It also marks the start of the day where as a Catholic, I join my brethren each year during Holy Week on Thursday to celebrate the Last Supper; Jesus Christ’s last meal with his disciples – the New Passover. The Israelites to this date, still celebrate this sacrifice of the Passover and renew their covenant as instructed by God in Exodus 12:24 “ You and your descendants shall observe these instructions as an everlasting ordinance.”
As a Christian, I renew this “new covenant” given to me by Jesus through the offering of the body and blood of Jesus. As a Catholic, I do this in the celebration of the sacrifice of the mass which brings into remembrance when Jesus gave Himself up as the sacrificial lamb to be slain for our redemption. Hebrews 7:27 describes Jesus as the High Priest who “offered Himself in sacrifice once and for all.”
I have often had to explain to non-Catholics that Catholics are not sacrificing Jesus over and over again at daily mass when the priest celebrates the Last Supper and calls those in attendance to participate in the meal. The priest is bringing into being, the objective reality of what was being commemorated and enabling the worshiper to participate in the event recalled. We must understand this in light of the Jewish concept of time as a series of specific events initiated by God. Time to the ancient Jews did not exist as an independent reality, but only in relation to events which were largely divinely initiated ones. We must also understand the original language used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:24 which English dilutes as “in memory of me” or “in remembrance of me.” The Hebrew Word used is “zikkaron” which renders present, the past actions of God as a living reality. So the worshiper is actually doing more than simply remembering Jesus’ sacrifice. The worshiper is actually with the disciples having that last meal with Jesus, just like the Jews are locked up in their homes celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread during Passover. It becomes a reality and transforms those who participate.
Blood of the Lamb
The Passover without a mention of the blood of the lamb would not be the Passover. I recall the hymn by the evangelists, John G. Foote and Elisha A. Hoffman called “When I see the Blood.” An image of Exodus 12 comes to mind whenever I sing the chorus: When I see the blood,
When I see the blood,
When I see the blood,
I will pass, I will pass over you.
So what exactly is this blood which was shed at Passover? It is described in Exodus 12:5 as the blood of “a perfect lamb without blemish” which is to be slain and put on the lintel and doorposts. By doing so, the destroyer will not enter the houses of those who have marked their houses and they will be saved from God’s wrath upon the first born of Egypt. This reminds me of so many places in the Psalms where reference is given to being hidden by God and being protected under His wings or in His shadow or in His hand.
This protection is made perfect by the shedding of Jesus’ blood at Calvary as a sacrifice to redeem us from our sins. Hebrews 9:12 describes Jesus as a High Priest who “did not take with Himself the blood of goats and bulls but His own blood.” Jesus is the perfect lamb who gives us the ultimate protection and wipes away all our sins. This perfection is conveyed in verse 14 which says “how much more will it be, with the blood of Christ?…offered Himself as an unblemished victim…” During these times of uncertainty, I am assured of the power in the blood of Jesus, as Revelations 12:11 assures me that I will overcome evil by the blood of the lamb and by the word of my testimony.
As we are quarantined during this Covid-19 pandemic, I can’t help but marvel over the perfect timing of God. Now more than ever, we need to plead the Precious Blood of Jesus over our lives and over all we hold dear. It is this precious blood which saves as expounded by Peter in 1Peter 1:18-19 – “Remember that you were freed…not with gold and silver, but with the precious blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish.” I recently came across a copy of a Letter of the Oration found in the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, who with St. Matilda and St. Bridget, wished to know something of the Passion of Jesus Christ. It was revealed to them amongst other things that Jesus lost 28,430 drops of blood. What agony He went through to protect us from ourselves; from our self destruction and damnation to hell.
The New Dough
The question now is – was the shedding of that precious blood worth it? Why are you alive? Was saving you worth it? We are under quarantine but it is not an isolation period. It is not a time to practice spiritual social distancing. It is an incubation period; a period to reconnect to God and to listen to Him as He unravels the purpose for which you were saved. Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 sums this up for me: “This is not the time to praise yourself. Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out then, the old yeast and BE THE NEW DOUGH.”
Indeed, this is not the time to praise ourselves but a time for deep introspection. We have not only allowed ourselves to be spiritually lukewarm, but have been unable to rise up against the darkness that has seemed to gain an upper ground in our world. We have become stale yeast and we need to empty ourselves by throwing some things out and renewing our Purpose in life. Everything is birthed in the spiritual and we need to manifest what God has destined us to be. As Romans 8:19 says, “all creation is eagerly expecting the birth in glory of the children of God”; of you and I, as all creation groans and suffers the pangs of spiritual rebirth in us. We cannot afford to let this period of incubation pass us by. It cannot just passover.
During this global quarantine and forced retardation of our ever-busy lives, let us contemplate more deeply on the significance of the Passover. As a Catholic, I celebrate this Feast of Unleavened Bread daily, as I participate in daily mass and it is easy to go through the ritual of this sacrifice without deeply reflecting on its grand significance. It is easy to become spiritually lukewarm and fill my mind up with things which may not necessarily be aligned to God’s Purpose for me.
So many souls have perished as a result of this pandemic. Have you asked yourself, why God spared you? Do you think it was because you were in control and it is because you have observed all the social distance and hygiene protocols? Do you still think that you are in control of your life? Isn’t it time for you to reconnect to God and to delve deeper into His Presence so He can guide you into your destiny and His plan for you?
This is Holy Week and as we enter into the Easter Tridium of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, may we realize that it is a perversion NOT to put God first in our lives. May we also be true to ourselves of the times where we have served other gods apart from him, albeit that of money, success, and the like, thus being guilty of the sin of idolatry. Let us heed the words of St Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “If Christ became our Passover, you should become unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread that is purity and sincerity.” Make me unleavened bread. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.