by Ken Rolheiser
The yes and no emerging from behind the mask 

Some of the heroes in the good versus evil battle have traditionally been masked, as in the Lone Ranger, Zorro, Batman and Batwoman. Have we been a force of good or evil since we donned the mask?

We are soon going to be called forth from behind the Covid mask. What will emerge? A positive yes to the challenges opening up to us or a less reluctant response? As stewards of the mysteries of God we are collaborators in the work of the creation, redemption and sanctification of the world.

We have seen sneak previews of some of the faces emerging. Nephews of mine were sharing glimpses of new facial hair on Facebook. Personally, I lost my beard of fifty years during covid. On another note, I detect some hesitation about springing back into action after the covid pause.

Membership activities in organizations and in community seem to have stalled in the past year. We got used to less activity, and in some cases age continued to catch up to us. The word from Corinthians 1:18-22 is always “Yes”. Our word to you has not been “Yes and no” Paul says. In Christ it is always “Yes”.

In Jesus, all of God’s promises are always “Yes”. God’s love of us, even when we stray from him, is always “Yes”. In Hosea 11:1-4 God loved Israel though they went away from him. Yet God stopped his anger even when it became fierce. “I will not come in wrath,” he said.

Jesus gave us an image of his Sacred Heart through Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1677. The vision he showed her was a flaming Heart with a crown of thorns around it. Jesus took her heart and placed it in his heart, and then he gave back part of his flaming heart to her.

When we contemplate the cross, the pierced heart of Jesus, love and water flow from it to us and the world. In the Divine Mercy image revealed to St Faustina Jesus explains, “The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls… These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.”

Emerging from behind our masks is reminiscent of emerging from behind the veil that was prominent in the temple before the coming of Jesus. The face of God was veiled to protect anyone from seeing it. Even the face of Moses was veiled after he spoke with God because of the radiance it reflected. But Jesus removed that veil.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two at the death of Jesus. Heaven was opened to us, and the saving actions of Jesus’ loving “yes” replaced the fear and danger of coming close to God. Now we can approach God’s love through scripture, through prayer and by contemplating the crucifix.

Springing back into action after the masks are gone has temporal as well as eternal rewards. The resumption of social activities can only be rewarding as we again interact with all the people we love in our families, friends and community. Are we again ready to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world? (Matthew 5:13-14).

(570 words)