Scriptural and Life Reflections by G Malone SSS
Friends, after several weeks of turmoil in our lives and also in the pastoral life of Our Church, – with Masses ceasing and Churches being locked, – we find ourselves in the threshold of Holy Week.
Speaking personally, the inability to celebrate The Eucharist and other Sacraments in the usual way has been very difficult for me and for the People of God to whom I minister here at Concord Hospital and beyond. People still fall ill, some chronic, others terminal, while others mysteriously recover their health and regain a new lease on life itself and so, are able to eventually and thankfully, return home. There are many stresses in our Local and World-wide Communities at this time. We think of the Medical, Nursing, Emergency, and Hospital Personnel in particular, along with Local, State, National and World Leaders each striving to respond adequately to the present-day COVID-19 Pandemic.
I’m reminded of the sentiments of Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018, including during the Ebola crisis) who wrote:
“Dear Fellow Citizens of The World,…It does not mean that we are on our own, every country for themselves. On the contrary, it is the sign of a communal response, that border closures make a difference.”
Her letter concludes:
“I have full faith in the relentless spirit of the individual, a conviction that leaders emerge in times of crisis at every level of society, and that our religious and communal differences pale in comparison to our collective belief in the power of prayer, and our respective faith in God. As we all hunker down in the next few weeks, I pray for the health and well-being of our global citizens, and I ask that everyone remember that our humanity now relies on the essential truth that a life well-lived is a life in the service to others.”
I am sure that we have all felt the sadness and grief of the new restrictions placed upon us at this time, and understanding the reasons for the current rules does not ameliorate the sadness we are all feeling. These changed conditions in which we find ourselves, has produced some great innovation, as Faith Communities, Parishes and Priests and Pastoral Leaders bring spiritual resources to their people. Wherever you are and whatever your situation, I hope you feel supported and are able to access the resources you require. Don’t be afraid to ask one of your family, friends or neighbours for support. Let us continue to pray for one another.
While ‘social distancing’ has become the norm during these days as we each strive to do our best to protect ourselves and our neighbours from COVOID-19, there are times when it is more difficult than others to stay positive and adhere to the restrictions and rules. For many it will be during the upcoming Easter Week.
The Rituals of Holy Week – Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil /or Easter Sunday Service has always been a chance for parish, school or family, and Concord Hospital chapel and many other Christian communities to come together in sadness and in joy. However, it seems that only in recognising the loss of a broader sense of Community, This Year that, we appreciate how much our faith communities, parishes, and our families have meant to us.
My own hope as Roman Catholic Chaplain to the hospital is that in my sharing of these Holy Week Reflections with you, they might – buoy up our flagging hearts and minds – as together, we try to assimilate the scale of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but also entrust those who have died or are dying at this time, to God’s ever-faithful love – with a renewed faith ourselves – in God’s care and goodness for us all. We are invited anew in this ‘Holy’ week to join in continued prayer for those who are afflicted and isolated at this time, and in support of the many generous healthcare personnel – each adding their individual skills – to the ultimatecare of us all.
On Palm Sunday we began the prayer of Holy Week as Jesus enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, accompanied by crowds shouting joyfully ‘Hosanna!’ and waving their palm branches. Very soon, the mood of the people changes and they cry ‘Crucify him!’ (Gospel). We accompany Jesus as he goes to his death. Fortunately however, that is not the end of the story, or that of our own…
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