3 minutes reading time (634 words)

Homily - Mass in Time of Pandemic - Bishop McKeown

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Friday, 3 April 2020. Fifth Week in Ordinary Time  


This is a very unsettling time for lots of people. Many of the old certainties and freedoms are no longer there. We can feel that we are in choppy waters. We are in a situation where we have never been before.

That is where the disciples are in today's Gospel. My guess is that their main problem is not that the weather is stormy. As fishermen, they would have seen that often enough. Their problem is that Jesus their leader doesn't seem to care that they are in a difficult situation. So, his actions are aimed, not just at settling the waves but at settling their fears. He is always concerned about and sensitive to people. But he chides them for having little faith in him. He wants to draw the disciples beyond trusting in themselves to depending on a greater wisdom and truth, to believing that God is in charge and not the forces of destruction. Jesus always pulls us out of our comfort zone where we think we could be our own Saviour. That is why the Gospel passage finishes with the apostle asking who this man is. And Jesus does not answer. He simply asks them to be with him and to come to their own conclusions.

So this Covid19 event - and everything that happens in our own life - is not just a challenge to be faced but also a call to have a faith that trusts Jesus. Next week, he will ask that the chalice of suffering should be taken away from himself, if that were possible. And on the Cross, he cries out, like the apostles today, because he seems to have been abandoned.

Our prayer this evening is not merely that we be spared the pain of this pandemic. We also pray that we will have the faith to come through it, maybe battered and scarred – but with a renewed sense of God in the midst of the storms that have come down upon us.

I am very conscious that the uncertainty and restrictions are leaving many people on edge. For that reason, it is important that our leaders provide direction and a calming influence. We all need reassurance that politicians are working together for our sakes. There is enough to set our teeth on edge already without public figures creating a further storm. We have enough headwinds already. We may also find ourselves bombarded by angry emails asserting – with minimal evidence - that this is all a conspiracy to control our lives or destroy our society. No-one benefits from scaremongering and agenda-driven assertions that often rejoice in blaming some group. They chill the heart further rather than providing either heat or light.

Tonight, as we approach Holy Week, we pray for God's grace to master the evil and destructive power that is in our midst. Don't be slow to pray for miracles, little and large. We ask for wisdom and strength for all in leadership and in the medical services, that they can have strength to continue their dedicated service. But we also ask for the grace to face these storms, trusting that God is not curled up in a corner, asleep and unconcerned about us. He has been through the brutality of Good Friday and has shown that truth and grace will always be victorious and that nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We journey on with trust for Jesus says to the waves and to our troubled hearts, "Peace, be still!"

+ Donal McKeown


View Mass in St Eugene's Cathedral

Bishop Donal will celebrate Mass at 7:30pm Friday, 3rd April in St Eugene's Cathedral: click here to view online

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