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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

A PERSPECTIVE ON COVID-19

“There will be …. plagues”
(Luke 21:11)

March 12, 2020

Greetings of peace to all my brothers and sisters in Christ!

I am not a medical practitioner, but I am a mission practitioner. We are people in the world, but we are set apart. We think not with the wisdom of men but with the wisdom of God. We have supernatural faith and believe in miracles. Permit me to give you my perspective on COVID-19.

COVID-19 situationer

The WHO has just declared COVID-19 a pandemic. It is in 126 countries and territories throughout the world, and continues to spread (even as I am writing). There have been 4,638 deaths with 126,609 reported infections, giving a mortality of 3.7%. There probably are more unreported or unrecognized infections, and the “good news” of this is that, if so, the mortality rate should be lower.

Let us put COVID-19 into proper perspective. It may not be as bad as influenza, which is likewise an infectious respiratory illness and is transmitted in similar ways. According to the WHO, the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people each year, with 5 million cases of severe illness and 1 billion infections. This is not to downplay the threat of COVID-19. Further, there is a vaccine for flu but not yet for COVID-19. The mortality rate for influenza is less than 0.1%, for COVID-19 3.7% (hopefully much lower if all infections are accounted for), for SARS 9.5% and for MERS 34.4%.

Now with all deadly diseases, we must be prudent and take necessary precautions. But we also should not panic, to the extent that the cure becomes worse than the disease. What would be the economic and social effect if more and more of the world goes into lockdown? Would the resulting dislocation, disorder, conflicts and chaos inflict greater harm on people, especially the poor?

The spiritual dimension

I am distressed at some of the ways our Church has responded to COVID-19. Such as closing churches, cancelling Masses, forgoing spiritual events including Lenten retreats and pilgrimages, even closing the healing baths at Lourdes. In some circumstances these moves might be justified, but in most cases, now is not yet the time. We might end up being even more cautious than governments and secular organizations. While malls and casinos remain open, churches are closed? Should it be rather a time to gather even more in spiritual places, especially churches?

We know that everything that happens in the world is under the mighty hand of God. So God has allowed this plague to happen. Perhaps God caused this plague to happen. The world today is in such darkness of sin. People have turned away from God. Many Catholics, belonging to the one true Church established by Jesus himself, are no longer living out their faith.

Are we being chastised by God? In the history of salvation, God had formed a people for Himself. These were the Israelites, and Christians today are the new Israel. God warned them: “But if you do not heed me and do not keep all these commandments, if you reject my statutes and loathe my decrees, refusing to obey all my commandments and breaking my covenant, then I, in turn, will do this to you: …. Though you then huddle together in your cities, I will send pestilence among you” (Lv 26:14-16a,25b). Christians today have been rejecting God and disobeying His commandments.

So yes, the world should be looking for a vaccine against COVID-19, we should take all precautions necessary, we can even do lockdowns as will be helpful. But unless we change and repent for sin, we can expect God’s chastisement to continue. It is done out of love for us. The world’s attention has been caught, but unless we see beyond the physical and mundane, we will miss the lesson. And the world will continue its downward spiral to ruin and doom.

How should we as Christians, as Catholics, as MFC, respond to COVID-19? We must recognize that ultimate salvation is in God alone. So we need to pray. We look to the prayer of Jehoshaphat in the house of the Lord. “If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you, for your name is in this house, and we will cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save!” (2 Chr 20:9). We look to the prayer of Solomon before the altar of the Lord. “If there is famine in the land or pestilence; …. whatever plague or sickness there may be; …. whatever prayer or petition any may make, any of your people Israel, who know heartfelt remorse and stretch out their hands toward this house, listen in heaven, the place of your enthronement; forgive and take action.” (1 Kgs 8:37a,d,38-39a).

Our response as MFC

How do we respond as holy warriors in MFC?

First, in prudence, we must take the necessary health precautions. We wash our hands often, we cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, we stay home if we are sick, we limit physical interactions whenever we are together with others, and so on. Think not only of your own health but those whom you might infect.

But second, we must continue with our regular life and community activities, unless secular authorities limit such actions. We continue with our household meetings, our assemblies, our formation, our work of evangelization, and our missionary thrusts. All the more, if God has allowed or has inflicted this plague, we must pray and beg for God’s mercy, and work for repentance and transformation in Christ, and the renewal of this fallen world.

Third, we must not panic and contribute to growing hysteria. What is there to fear, if our lives are in the hands of God? Are Church people to become even more cautious than the pagans? Do we not trust in a God who cares for us, who makes all things work for our good? “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Mt 6:34).

Let us pray

“Oh God, deliver us from COVID-19.
Let the authorities find a cure for this disease.
But let us see the deeper spiritual implications of this scourge.
Bring your people to repentance.
Renew and revive your Church.
Give us in MFC the boldness to go forth
and continue to do your work.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
St Raphael, pray for us.
St Roch, pray for us.

May the peace of Christ, which surpasses all understanding, be with you all.

God bless and protect you and your loved ones always.

* * *


Raphael the Archangel, whose name means “God has healed,” is the one who caused the physical healing of Tobit and protected Tobiah and Sarah from the demon Asmodeus.
St Roch or San Rocco (or St Rock in English, Sao Roque in Portuguese, San Roque in Spanish including in the Philippines) is especially invoked against the plague.

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