Is 2020 pressing on your last nerve?

men's white dress shirt

Each morning the Daily Readings in the lectionary are part of my devotional time. These are the readings that are read in the daily Mass. Some mornings a verse will jump out at me. Other mornings I am hard pressed to remember what I read. Today I decided to revisit the readings and soak in them a little longer.

My wife and I have just moved from South Jersey to Wisconsin. I accepted a position with a parish in Madison and have been on the job now three days. I come to the role with energy and excitement, but I can in no way ignore that this is the twelfth month of the year 2020. Allow me to share just a little about my 2020. I’m sure we will have some points in common.

January 2020: My dad died from Parkinson’s at the age of 87. Little did I know that I was given a great gift in being able to attend his funeral. So many others were not afforded that opportunity in their loss due to what was coming.

March 2020: We were introduced to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). So very little was known, except that it was highly contagious. We were asked to quarantine for 15 days to slow the spread. For me, as for many others, that meant working from home. At the same time our religious services/Masses were suspended. We didn’t know it then, but that would go on for at least three months. For some it continues.

May 2020: We watched with horror the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protests over his death took place in many places. Unfortunately, some of these protests were co-opted and became riots with looting destroying businesses and even homes. There was a general sense of anger, frustration and hopelessness that pervaded our lives.

June 2020: After working from home 12 weeks, I was notified that due to restructuring, my job was being eliminated. Suddenly I had no job. I joined a vast number of other people who also lost their livelihood. We were able to return to Mass with many safeguards in place.

July/August 2020: I sent out resume after resume, but nothing seemed to attract anyone’s attention.

September 2020: I interviewed for my current position and planned a trip to America’s Dairyland.

October 2020: I traveled to Wisconsin to see first-hand the job opportunity. The grip that COVID had on the nation was evident in the precautions taken in the airports, airplanes and in all public settings. While in Madison, I accepted the new position.

November 2020: Packing, celebrating Thanksgiving, praying for friends and family members who contracted the virus, and a presidential election that truly divided the nation occupied the month.

That brings me to December and I’m on the job as Director of Evangelization and Community Outreach for Good Shepherd Parish. My responsibility is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who have not heard and with those who really aren’t sure there is good news. And hopefully encourage all of us who need some good news!

For a people who are weary, worn down and worried as 2020 comes to an end, especially in this season of Advent, this morning’s readings are a source of “glad tidings of comfort and joy!”

Isaiah 40:28–31
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (RSV)

If that wasn’t enough, Jesus, the eternal Son of God, comes among us and reinforces this incredible news we first hear from the prophet Isaiah!

Matthew 11:28–30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (RSV)

I have a feeling that Jesus understands when life presses on our last nerve. I cannot but accept his invitation to come.