God is in control,compassionate, and will crown us

God is in control,compassionate, and will crown us

How do we feel with everything that’s going on right now? It’s a natural feeling to be worried, anxious, or even afraid. However, we should never let those emotions paralyzed us. Don’t let fear lead us into passivity or isolation. We should let our sights look beyond our current situation and focus our vision on God. The book of Deuteronomy says, “be valiant and strong, do not fear or tremble before them for Yahweh, your God, is with you; He will not leave you or abandon you” (Deut 31:6).

Even in the midst of these calamities, sickness, and pandemic, our Almighty God is reminding us, “fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43,1). And our Lord Jesus is constantly reassuring us “courage! Don’t be afraid. It’s me” (Matthew 14,27).

My brothers and sisters, in these perilous times, let us turn to God and trust Him more. Let us rely on God and commit everything to Him. The Lord is faithful (2 Thes 3:3). During this time of uncertainty, let me impart three important messages about our merciful God:

God is still in control of everything.
God is compassionate to us.
God will crown us in the end.

First, let us not forget that our God is powerful. He is our creator, as Saint John the Evangelist reminds us “all things were made through Him and without Him nothing came to be” (John 1:2).  Let us always remember, God sits on the throne forever and He is in control of every living creature. As our good and loving God, he will never abandon us so much so he will never ignore our petitions. He will never let us down. So, come to God and remain in Him.

With the coronavirus pandemic and other catastrophes, the answer lies in our hands (Diocesan directive dated 01 March 2020). Fold our hands in prayers, submit ourselves to God as we lift up our prayers to Him. In praying, we acknowledge God’s power and sovereignty over us and all of His creation. He will give what is best for us. He will bless us for He promised, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds” (Jeremiah 30:17).  Let us then place everything under God’s care.

With the proper use of our hands and concerted efforts, we can do better. It is now our mandate to disinfect our parish Churches and its surroundings. Let us provide free alcohol, hand sanitizers, and when possible, face masks. Extra-ordinary lay ministers of the Holy Eucharist are obliged to wear masks during the distribution of the Holy Communion. Kumpisalang Bayan is temporarily suspended and general absolutions can be given with proper catechesis. We, the priests, just like the doctors and nurses, are frontliners inside and outside of the Church, serving the people.

To give one’s hand is to comfort and to care. Our elderly, the sick, and those who are taking medications are dispensed from Sunday obligations. As preventive measures, we advised our school children to temporarily forego attending the Holy Mass. Watching and hearing Sunday masses from television and radio are sufficient in this situation.

In as much as we want to gather our people around the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we support and abide by the call of our local officials to avoid mass gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We desire to still be able to provide for the people’s spiritual nourishment and not deprive them of the Bread of Life but at the same time, we do not want to
endanger the lives of many.

We prioritize the common good and safety of our people. It is best to suspend the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the areas where there are confirmed positive coronavirus cases. These are in the parish Churches of Orani and Balanga.

Our Churches will be open for our people who would like to pray, observing the prescribed social distancing. Our assigned priests in the parishes, with their discretion, can celebrate Holy Masses through live streaming.

Our decision of canceling the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is our way of living the spirit of Lent; to intensify the longing for our Lord Jesus and to perform acts of sacrifices for everybody’s sanctification.

Secondly, let us always remember that God is compassionate . He deeply cares for us and is very much concerned about our wellbeing. Our gracious God did not even spare His own Son for our salvation. St. John the Evangelist assures us “yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life” (John
3:16).

So, do not panic because of the coronavirus pandemic. God is much bigger than all of these. He can conquer all. He is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives and is concerned with our sufferings. He will never abandon or ignore us. The Bible says: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with
you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Our very own Filipino proverb I is very applicable to our worrisome situation. We should not be the source of the problem but rather a part of the solution . Help instead of hoard. Be truthful and disregard false information. Give hope rather than being prophets of doom. Be sacred and not scared. Our Lord Jeus is our refuge amid this coronavirus pandemic.Trust and hold on to His words: “go your way, your faith has made you well” (Mark 10:52).

The Holy Eucharist is the focal point and culmination for us Catholics. With the cancellation of the Holy Eucharist, let us show others that we become with what we eat. Let us speak God’s words and share to others the Good News of His love through the sacrificial Lamb. Instead of being idle due to a lockdown, self-quarantine, and suspension of classes, let us speak about forgiveness and charity. Communicate with respect, affection, and humility. With the live streaming of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at home, be the body of Jesus. Be the living bread to one another. Just like what Jesus did, break the bread and partake with them. Do something to preserve, promote, and uplift each other’s lives. Being together again with the family impels us to ask: how much time have we been together at family meals? Have we been together as a family at the Holy Eucharist?

Lastly, let us always realize that in spite of everything, God triumphs. God is always victorious. He conquers everything. The Book of Psalm affirms “from the Lord comes deliverance” (Ps 3:8).  Our hope is always in God. He is our very present help in time of need. He heals.

Coronavirus in this Season of Lent is our “forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:2) in our earthly pilgrimage to Heaven. It is a threat to our precious lives, thorns to our jobs, and a heavy burden to the global economy. But Jesus assures us “you will have trouble in the world; but take courage! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

There is the reality of sickness and uncertainty in our lives, as well as the reality of the cross, which we have to bear or even be crucified. In the end, a crown awaits us, either of glory or of thorns. God promised to reward those who love him and persevere during trials. Ask ourselves, have we ignored God, set Him aside, and think of ourselves as self-sufficient when we go through some real hard times? Have we mocked God or let Him be ridiculed by others and we just laughed out loud? Have we fallen to the trap of conceit and arrogance, puffing ourselves up thinking we got it all?

Let us never forget God, more so in these dangerous times of coronavirus. Let us recognize His power and might. What a difference it makes knowing Jesus Christ is King and that He reigns supreme and everything is under His authority. He will lead us to the rightful cure and corresponding remedy. We should not doubt God nor rebel against Him even if he does not seem to answer right away. Do not be impatient with God or attempt to do anything against His will. Instead, come to Him boldly and expectantly, trusting that He knows what’s best for us and can use even the most difficult and trying times for good. Let us cry out to God, acknowledge His providential care and rest on his unchanging mercy and abounding Grace. The words of St. James apply to us when he writes: “happy are those who patiently endure trials, because afterwards they will receive the crown of life which the Lord promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

Let us pray…

O loving God, you are the Miracle Worker. We know you are always concerned about our needs. Hear our prayers in this time of uncertainty. We pray that you control the coronavirus pandemic. We fervently ask that you display your power and stop the rapid spread of this deadly virus. Manifest your presence to those who have already been infected. Give them hope and courage and may your miraculous healing hands be upon them. We also ask that you protect the healthcare workers involved in the areas of outbreaks. May they stay healthy and grant them the stamina to work for the severely ill. We pray for the scientists working tirelessly to find a cure. Grant them the wisdom so they may discover a vaccine against this virus. We also lift up to you the drug making companies. May they stand against unscrupulous practices and not be motivated by profit over patients. Finally, we ask that you direct the government authorities according to your ways so they may work diligently and have the people’s best interest at heart. Come to our rescue O Heavenly Father and let us combat our fears and worries with the assurance that you will show compassion in this time of great need. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen! 

 

+ Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD
Bishop of Balanga