These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge. (Psalm 7:2a)
In the story of the Storm on the Lake, the disciples cry out in fear, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Yesterday, in the midst of the torment of the Covid-19 virus, Pope Francis, in his apostolic blessing Urbi et Orbi, invited the world to take refuge in the Lord who indeed cares for us.
As Pope Francis said: “We have realized that we are on the same boat.” How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons. Like the disciples, we will experience that with Christ on board there will be no shipwreck. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies."
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (Ps 34:19)
For those families who have loved ones in intensive care and are unable to visit them, or then they lose them and are not able to see them one last time, and often are not able even to attend their funerals, we have lived through this. But our faith tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. That is our faith and our hope. God has not abandoned us. The Lord is with us in every moment of human suffering. The Lord holds us close to his heart.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)
God so loved the world . . . this verse was drilled into my dear little head when I attended Sunday School as a kid. I’m grateful that they did. Because we need to hear that God loves the world . . . and maybe we should too. In times of pandemic we need to be reminded that loving the world like God does, calls us to act responsibly when it comes to our neighbor, even to self-quarantine.
The angel said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.” (Ez 47: 8-9, 12)
♫I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, and all to whom this water came were saved.♫ The Vidi Aquam is an ancient antiphon sung in the Easter Season during the sprinkling with holy water that recalls our baptism. Water refreshes us with healing and salvation.
Thus says the LORD: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; There shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying. (Is 65:17a, 18a, 19b)
This ancient prophecy of Isaiah speaks of hope for us here today in the middle of the world crisis caused by the coronavirus. A new heavens and a new earth . . . and a new us, with rejoicing and happiness.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” (John 9:35-39)
Jesus is always with the outcasts—when the man born blind was thrown out, Jesus went to find him. It's amazing that as long as he was blind the man had no problems. But once his eyes were opened, he gets thrown out of his religious community. May the Lord open our eyes during these difficult times to see the world through the Compassionate Eyes of Christ.
“Come, let us return to the LORD, it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence. Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD; as certain as the dawn is his coming, and his judgment shines forth like the light of day! He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that waters the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)
In this difficult time when we need healing and hope, we certainly could use a cleansing spring rain, to water and restore us, so that we can know the Lord and live in the presence of God. For God is merciful and compassionate.