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God never intended for us to be socially distanced.
He said, from the very beginning, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
Being Himself a communion of Persons, God created a world in which being-with brings forth life and makes love grow. That’s why the Garden of Eden was so idyllic, lush, and green – God Himself dwelled there with Adam and Eve, and they lived in true harmony.
All of Creation was meant to move more and more toward perfect communion, but its progress became woefully disrupted by the introduction of sin and its consequent deaths.
As a result of the Fall, Adam and Eve experienced disintegration within themselves, disconnect in their relationship, disharmony with the created world, and estrangement in their friendship with God.
We are today experiencing the pangs of those same effects as this global pandemic affects our interpersonal communion in abrasive ways.
The current practice of social distancing is both prudent and loving, but we nevertheless feel the pain of separation when we learn about the increase of deaths, when loved ones are away laboring on the frontlines, when we stand six feet apart, when we avoid each other on sidewalks, when we communicate remotely, and when we shelter in place alone all-day.
God does not and did not want anything like this to be our end. So, after the Fall, He undertook a thousands-of-years project to restore what had been lost. The entire Old Testament tells the story of a God who will stop at nothing to save and renew the communion He had first established.
God worked patiently through human history before bringing everything to culmination in Jesus Christ. Jesus became the perfect bridge between God and man, being Himself both fully God and fully man.
In our upcoming holy days, we see into the heart of this God-man, who comes down from Heaven to bring us back to one another and draw us to himself.
On Thursday, Jesus gives us the gift of his own Body and Blood, substantiating his longing to be with us and in us; revealing, too, his profound desire for us to live in him.
On Good Friday, he suffers the greatest agony man will ever experience, in total separation from God as a result of death.
Jesus’ body will be isolated on Holy Saturday, and we will mourn, prevented from coming near him because of a large stone and protocols of the day.
Then, in the morning, Jesus will rise.
On Sunday, Jesus destroys the one thing that could keep us from him. He opens the gates of Heaven and thereby makes possible our living with and in him for all eternity.
There is a dissonance we feel, however, given our current situation, since most of us will not be able to physically celebrate this Easter triumph in our churches. Most of us will have to continue staying at home and live-streaming from afar.
Although we may not, for the foreseeable future, be able to pray together in person – to lift our voices in one song of praise and receive Jesus’ Body and Blood into our beings – we wait together. We prepare for the day when we will finally be allowed to leave our homes and run, like Mary Magdalene and John, to meet Christ at the empty tomb.
We remember, too, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
This Jesus is the same God who asks, “Where are you?” and never stops searching until we’re found (Gen. 3:9).
This Jesus is the same God who, well into the darkness of night, walks on water and saves his disciples from the storm (cf. Matt. 14:22-33).
This Jesus is the same God who passes through locked doors to reach his disciples and speak his peace, with no longer bloodied wounds (cf. John 20:19-23).
By the victory of his Resurrection, Jesus has overcome any form of social distancing.
Nothing, not even death, can stop him from finding a way to his people and bringing us into communion.