This week is an especially significant one not only for us Catholics who are observing Holy Week and preparing to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also for our Jewish brothers and sisters who are celebrating the eight days of Passover beginning at sundown tonight (April 8).

Frequently over the years, the two great holidays have overlapped on the calendar. This year – marked by the fear of COVID-19 and the dread of the coronoavirus – it seems, to me at least, to be particularly relevant that the two holidays coincide.

I think back to that first Passover and that first Easter, and I cannot help but relate what we are experiencing now to what those early men and women of both faiths must have felt at the time of the Exodus and the time of the resurrection of the Lord.

That first Passover found the Jews hunkering down and praying to be preserved from a great pestilence sweeping the land.

The story of Moses leading the enslaved Jews out of Egypt is recounted in Exodus. The Israelites are warned that “none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning”(12:22) because “it is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes.” After that, “the people bowed down and worshiped.” (12:27) 

I do not think that the coronavirus is some sort of chastisement from the Lord, but the similarities between then and now are obvious. The reason why I can imagine the Israelites huddled in their homes, afraid and uncertain is because sometimes I am afraid and uncertain as I self-quarantine.

The first Easter found the followers of Jesus Christ also huddled together. They were in the Upper Room fearful and confused and dreading what was awaiting them outside their locked room. They were not afraid of disease – they feared the authorities who killed Jesus would come after them next – but they still faced that first Easter with a sense of trepidation.

Again, I cannot help but think that this Easter Sunday – like most mornings this past month – I will wake up knowing that things are not as they should be and just a little fearful of what the day will bring.

But I also know – from the story of Passover and the story of the Resurrection – that God will not abandon His children. We are in a dark time, not unlike those long and dark nights that preceded the first Passover and the first Easter Sunday.

But the dawn will break. A new day will begin. Joy will triumph over fear. And, when that day arrives and we are back to “normal,” I will echo with great joy these words of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary: “The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.”