Hope in the Face of Sickness and Death
We, the consecrated people, have been trained to hope against hope (Romans 4:18). And we are challenged to show this to people whom we have professed to serve, especially in this time when this contagious pandemic called COVID-19 is threatening all of us. We too are vulnerable and would like to take precautions.
As men and women of prayer, let us pray that our government leaders, national and local, may find a way to contain the rapid spread of the virus and that our population as one Filipino people may cooperate with the doctors, health workers and military on the ground.
As prophets and mystics of our times, in cooperation with our bishops and the clergy, we are expected to show our solidarity and oneness with the poor who are bearing most the adverse impact of the “enhanced community quarantine.” They are the informal settlers, the daily-wage earners and the marginalized, the homeless, the street dwellers, the jeepney, bus and tricycle drivers, the garbage collectors, and many others. They are not far away from us. They live near our convents. Our gift to them is our prophetic witnessing – PRESENCE.
Presence means being visible to them in the streets, like the Pope walking in the empty street in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. The Pope somehow kept the prophetic words, “they shallknow that there was a prophet among them” (Ezek. 33:33).
You can do more like Fred, 40 years old, who showed much hope in the prison cell for eight years, being accused of selling shabu, but was acquitted for being falsely accused. He slept beside his fellow-inmate who had advanced tuberculosis. “We shared the same breath, but I did not get tuberculosis. I do not think any virus can infect me now.” Fred lost his job as a laborer in a construction company. He has four children and a wife. His survival plan? “Simple lang po napulot kong aral sa loob, kumapit sa Diyos na siyang pag-asa.” (I learned a simple lesson in prison, hold on to God who is hope.)
In these long days of uncertainty, confusion and want, let the presence of the members of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines be a sign of God’s presence of hope and love. Let our inherent gift of fraternal joy as members of our congregations be more contagious than the virus itself, to reverse the gloomy mood of our times. “Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.” This is precisely our vocation as prophets of our times, to tell the world that the downward trend can be reversed, by our attitudes and authentic witnessing.
We can now begin our healings by communicating our hope, faith and charity, in the groceries, supermarkets and drug stores, and elsewhere and through the social media, as we await for the vaccines which we hope will protect us from sickness and untimely death, but will make us live and turn us into persons and communities more grateful to God who is our true hope and salvation.
To God be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM & Sr. Marilyn A. Java, RC
Co-Chairpersons, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP)