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The Mystery of Presence

Reflections During COVID-19

by Father Sean Prince, CCC Board of Directors,

Diocese of Richmond, Director, Office of Worship

The Catholic faith is fundamentally about presence—how God is present to us. We experience God in the sacraments and through our community in the Church. Loving one another, forgiving one another, healing one another, serving one another…that’s how we know the presence of God. One of the enduring challenges these past months for me (and I am certain many Catholics and non-Catholics), has been the loss of physical presence.

However, the experience of distance and limit can offer the opportunity for a deepening of our faith. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowd, but all they have are a few loaves and fish. The disciple’s assessment of their own situation was that they were lacking. “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” (Matthew 14:17). But Jesus does not seem to be interested in what is lacking. Rather, he takes what is and turns it into a feast.

Even during a pandemic, we remain the Body of Christ. The distance, the confusion, and the strain of these times are also invitations from Christ to love. If we are able to attend Mass, we can receive communion with a prayer for all of those who cannot. If we are social distancing in our mask at the grocery store, we can buy a bag of groceries for those who are unable to go out. The absence and loneliness we feel is a reminder from God not to forget those who are so often forgotten, those our dedicated staff and friends of Commonwealth Catholic Charities assist each day—the poor, the vulnerable, the elderly, the lonely. There is nothing that God cannot transform through His love. So let us, then, continue to trust that He is working through the Church, through us, even in this challenging time.

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