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Bishops Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

4th Sunday of Lent

A TIME OF TESTING

My friends,

While the name of the virus we are struggling to control is known as COVID 19 – the entire experience that we are going through might best be named PANDEMIC 20 – simply because it is now a global world-wide phenomenon, the impact of which is still beyond our imagination.

The advice of the medical experts is placing a myriad of restrictions on our lives so that so much we regarded as normal is now out of bounds.  Spiritually, socially and mentally this will put many under pressures that we are not used to.

Every crisis is also an opportunity.  So too with Pandemic 20.  It can be a moment of grace in our lives.

It seems providential that we are invited to reflect to-day (4thSunday of Lent) on the experience of blindness, lack of clear vision, physical and spiritual and how the Lord can heal us and help lift the scales of darkness from our eyes and our minds.

Because we do not know how long this will last our greatest risk is frustration.  The clear message coming through to us on many levels is that sacrifices will need to be made by each of us to enable all of us work through this global threat.

Life has been good to us in recent times so that many of us are not used to the idea of sacrificing ourselves for others.  Sacrifice is a choice.  Sacrifice is a deliberate decision to put the needs of another before your own – and to do so out of love – not grudgingly.

Caring for small children who do not and cannot understand what a virus is will call for great patience from parents and older brothers and sisters.

For those on the frontline of this virus battle, the personal demand is very great indeed, they truly need our support and prayer.

Older people and those with underlying major illness are naturally concerned and some deeply anxious.  Great sensitivity is needed to help them cope.

My friends Pandemic 20 is in its infancy.  Even the experts cannot tell us how long it will go on.  It is important that we prepare ourselves for a long ordeal which will really test our spiritual mettle.

It will call for great resilience of mind and heart.

It will call for great fortitude to cope with the loss of loved ones – young and old.

My friends, this is the beginning of a time of great testing of our faith.  Despite our best efforts the personal loss of someone close to us, coupled with economic turmoil and uncertainty about the future, may lead to great spiritual devastation even the loss of hope.

So, we must be prepared, patient presence to one another will be essential – a patient presence filled by a sense of sacrifice of self for the other.  Fortitude and resilience will be called for in great measure as we face setbacks on the way.

So, we need to pray – pray in whatever way comes easy to you and your family.

Begin with thanksgiving for one another

Pray for strength and courage for the medical and health care personnel

Pray for forbearance and patience with one another

Our Psalm to-day is especially apt – “The Lord is my shepherd

If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear

You are there with your crook and your staff  

With these you give me comfort.

My friends, when a time of danger comes to our door, we need the grace of God to guide us in the right path and our Blessed Mother Mary to walk with us.

We continue to hold each other in our prayer.

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