Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent


COVID19 Pandemic seems to kill, not just people, but the economy, the religious practices, education systems, in short the world as we know it.  In a microcosmic way, the death of Lazarus made his sisters think of their world collapsing.  They were all the more saddened by the fact that Jesus who, they thought, was their good friend who could work miracles, did not bother to turn up, in spite of the sisters sending a message that their brother was mortally sick.(Ref. John 11:1-45).

The church doors are closed now.  That made us an un-gathered Church.  It is the disciples of Christ that make up the Church, not the buildings, opened or closed.  In this time of crisis, with the shut downs, Christians are to re-position themselves to be the true Church.  It becomes all the more important for those who are culturally Christian and habitually religious.  Those Christians and their companions are to realise the meaning of the words of Jesus, “This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified” (John11:4).  Here I borrow words from Charles Newington.  “The Christian faith is not a fair-weather faith.  It still functions in fair weather, but when the economy and the welfare system are humming along, God and the communion of faith seem less relevant.   A crisis squeezes us more tightly than usual and what’s in us will come out eventually.  Some people are very self-assured.  They are confident that they will rise to the occasion and triumph over adversity.  Most of us are not so sure of what will come out of us if we are squeezed hard by financial instability, the demands of social isolation, or God-forbid that we or a loved one succumbed to the virus.”

Just as Jesus restored the life of Lazarus and a new beginning for his sisters, the COVID19 crisis is paving a path for new world.  In a crisis like the one we have now, everyone realises the limitations of individualism and learns how interdependent we human beings are.  The virus, not discriminating between the rich, the privileged, the celebrities, the powerful and the rest, makes everyone appreciate the interdependency as God’s design for human beings.  It is also helping us sort the perishable from the life-giving.

A crisis also makes humanity more creative.  Businesses and the economy have already initiated some new thinking.  The Education field is finding creative ways of schooling.  Yes, the Crisis is not a waste.  It becomes the birth pang of a new creation.

Jesus always stressed the importance of being there for others in a spiritual life.  Prayer is not an exercise in itself, for making individuals better people, even though it will do that.  It is coming close to God through Christ.  It requires listening before speaking out our anxious thoughts.  It requires surrendering to Jesus and taking up his calls.  It requires an attitude like that of Thomas.  When Jesus called his disciples to go with him to Bethany, they were afraid, thinking that Jews are waiting there to kill them.  But Thomas showed what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus and said, “Let us also go” (John 11:16).  A similar call of Christ has become real and has come closer to home.  CatholicCare of Sydney is calling for volunteers to take food, medicine and such other provisions to the frail and lonely in the event of corona virus spreading and making many sick.  Sister Cecilia Joseph, OP, from the parish convent, has agreed to coordinate the parish team who will be part of the Archdiocesan team. Anyone volunteering is invited to leave contact details with the parish office.

When this deadly crisis period is over we will look at our families, friends and neighbours with a deeper appreciation of God’s goodness to us all.  Our fellowship will be strengthened to subdue self-interests.  We will be more respectful to those who do not share the same status as ours.  We will be resuscitated like Lazarus in John Chapter 11.  I invite you this weekend to read John 11:1-45 and understand Christ’s message for you in this time of gloom.