Who would have thought this pandemic would affect our lives in so many ways, including the way we worship? There is this enormous sense of loss, when we first learned about church buildings locking up for the well-being of parishioners. However, I also feel very fortunate these days as I get different notifications on social media about the live-streaming of mass from different parishes. Thanks to the wonderful initiative of many priests, we have the opportunity to “visit” our friends’ churches and have a taste of their community worship. I am sure live-streaming on the internet was not part of their training in seminaries.
On this 5th Sunday of Lent, how fortunate we are to be able to take in all the beautiful homilies we want on the death and resurrection of Lazarus with the click of a few buttons. When I was listening to the Gospel reading for the 3rd or the 4th time this morning (and I lost count), the line that stuck with me most was the one when the disciples asked why Jesus would go back to Judea again when the Jews were trying to kill him earlier. As I think about the present moment when most of us are simply asked to stay home, I know many priests and religious are out of their churches, consoling others, giving the sacraments to those who need them, especially the ones who are very sick. Unlike medical workers who may have their full protective gear when they tend to the patients, the priests and the religious would not have that luxury. I can’t help it but to think like the disciples in the Gospel. Why would they go to where there is such a high risk of getting infected with the virus? There was a report a few days earlier on the number of priests in Italy who died from COVID 19 exceeding sixty. Currently, there are also many religious who have died or are infected with the virus. It is so touching to see pictures of some priests hosting drive-thru confessions or listening to confessions on front porches. Scenes of chapels filled with religious sisters praying on their knees for the end of the pandemic warmed my heart. I feel very thankful to God sending these hard-working and loyal priests and religious to us. I want to say THANK YOU to all the amazing priests and religious out there, working as faithful servants of God. May God bless them, guide them and protect them. Amen.