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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

A PERSPECTIVE ON COVID-19
(Part 3)

“how grievous your sins:
…. turning away the needy at the gate.”
(Amos 5:12)

March 15, 2020

May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).

COVID-19 continues to spread and has been declared a pandemic. Currently there have been 156,099 infections and 5,819 deaths worldwide. Governments continue to lock down nations (or parts of nations) and bishops continue to lock down churches (or just cancel Masses).

How should we as the people of God fight COVID-19? I offer five P’s to fight the two P’s (pandemic and panic).

First is PRAYER. COVID-19 is not just a medical or biological challenge, but is a spiritual challenge. If it is chastisement from God, then we need to resort to spiritual responses. We look to God’s intervention even more than a vaccine. We need to pray, and pray intensely. We need to humble ourselves before God and acknowledge our helplessness. “He humbled their hearts through hardship; they stumbled with no one to help.” (Ps 107:12). But God is there to help. We need to turn to Him and beg for His mercy. “In their distress they cried to the Lord, who saved them in their peril.” (Ps 107:13).

Second is PENANCE. We need to repent of our sin. We need to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We need to understand that our sins cause us to be afflicted. “I have begun to strike you with devastation because of your sins.” (Mi 6:13). COVID-19 is one way by which God can bring us back to Himself. If so, this terrible scourge can become a mysterious blessing.

Third is PROCLAMATION. Not only we need to repent, but even more so, the many Catholics who have been remiss in their faith life. They need to be renewed and transformed in Christ. How will that happen? It happens as we continue with our work of evangelization, proclaiming salvation in Jesus. They need to meet Christ in order to live Christ. For them to meet Christ, we need to share Christ. This work is urgent, not to be stopped by such challenges as COVID-19, as people are dying daily in their sins.

Fourth is PROCESSION. I would like to look to what Bp Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, USA, has done. He and the people of God do processions with the Blessed Sacrament around the church, with appropriate prayers. This was also done by Pope St Gregory the Great during the plague in the Roman Empire in the sixth century. Let us not cower while the devil delights in the closing of churches and cancellation of Masses. Let the people of God go on the offensive. You can suggest such a procession to your priests and bishops.

Fifth is PRUDENCE. We remain prudent in our actions and mindful of the real dangers of COVID-19. We take the necessary precautions, as long as these are not to the extreme, such as to be prejudicial to the outward and visible practice of our faith. We should not be overreacting even more than secular authorities are. They have not closed malls, stores, restaurants, offices and public transport, so why will we close churches? Has our cancelling Masses even actually contributed to the panic?

With COVID-19, we are taking many precautions, and preparing ourselves to face the threat or what is to come, mindful of our physical well-being. But how mindful are God’s people about their spiritual health? We wash our hands as a precaution, but “even if you scour it with lye, and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, oracle of the Lord God.” (Jer 2:22). How prepared are people for the inevitable coming of our Lord? COVID-19 may bring death, which is only the gateway to eternal life, but serious sin brings death for all eternity.

People are fearing so much COVID-19, and in their fear, draw back from the Church and the sacraments. What we need to do is the opposite. We need to come together for the Eucharist. We need to look to God for healing. We need to fear God alone. We need to repent of sin. “Your own wickedness chastises you, your own infidelities punish you. Know then, and see, how evil and bitter is your forsaking the Lord, your God, and your showing no fear of me, oracle of the Lord, the God of hosts.” (Jer 2:19).

So put COVID-19 in the right perspective, in the perspective of God’s words. Then act according not to the wisdom of the world but to the inscrutable wisdom of God. For the holy warriors of MFC, carry on with our life and mission. Attend your meetings. Do your services. Keep focused on Christ.

“if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced,
humble themselves and pray,
and seek my face and turn from their evil ways,
I will hear them from heaven
and pardon their sins and heal their land.”
(2 Chr 7:14-15)

God bless and protect you all.

* * *


To put this in perspective, here are the number of people worldwide who die on average in a single day: cancer 26,383, coronary heart disease 24,641, diabetes 4,300, mosquitoes 1,900, homicides 1,300, snakes 378.

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