During this period of pandemic, we have only been able to participate in Mass at home, only through Spiritual Communion. We found this rather difficult to accept as we felt that our faith seemed to be fading, or was even being tested, and some felt shattered. We may have felt separated from the Church and the Sacrament of the Eucharist during this time. Our faith now to some extent, depends on social media. You are not alone though because I too went through this same feeling.
During the past three months, I celebrated my Sunday Mass at the altar of our Church together with our sacristan, Joseph. As for daily mass, I would just celebrate it quietly in my room. I felt dissatisfied celebrating Mass alone without the usual responses from all of you.
Each time I celebrated the Sunday Mass, I would look at the pews and imagine that you and your families were at those pews, seated at your usual places. This morning, with some of you present at the Mass, I experienced mixed feelings, celebrating with you. It was so surreal, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening. I was excited, joyous and nervous altogether!
This trial period has brought birth to a new ministry in St. Joseph’s Church. We have informed you about this two weeks ago. It is none other than our Parish Response Team (PRT). This team has worked tirelessly to prepare, plan, clean and sanitise the whole church, before the reopening today for Mass.
As a start for this gradual opening, we decided to reopen our Church on a small scale, inviting a few BECs each Sunday to come and participate in the mass. As it stands today, we had almost 140 parishioners from BECs 1 to 9, with a few other volunteers present as well. Surely, this is a good start and we will progressively open up the church for everybody but I am clueless as to when we will be able to fully open our doors.
I am sure you are already familiar with our government and Parish’s SOP which was circulated to all Becs and ministries these past few days. We have posted this on our website, too. We do need your full cooperation to adhere to the guidelines set. Failing which , we will be non-compliant with respect to the government’s SOP.
Let us remember to pray for those who were unable to be with us this morning, and let us continue to be patient and await the day when we can all freely congregate together for mass.
At last Sunday’s Gospel, we heard Jesus tell His disciples to not be afraid. Jesus commissioned them for the mission of casting out demons, healing the sick and proclaiming the Good News to the poor.
Today, the Gospel continues to instruct us about aspects of discipleship, to share in the mission of Christ. We are union with Christ through Baptism, and we have been given the mandate to go on this mission to preach the Good News to all. At every Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, we renew our baptismal promises. We renounce our sins and we profess our faith and we commit ourselves to live a holy life for Jesus and for His Church, and to serve the Kingdom of God.
We must strive to be like the unnamed woman in today’s 1st reading, who served generously and was hospitalble to the Prophet Elisha. As a part of God’s family, we must share our faith generously and humbly offering ourselves in service to God and to others, especially to our community and our Church, following the example of the Shunamite unnamed woman.
In this mission of ours, Jesus has to be the center of our lives and our mission has to be centred in God’s love. The call to discipleship now falls on us. Jesus calls us to embrace His mission on earth. At times, we may hesitate and even fear, being a part of that mission of Christ. However, we must pick up courage and take up the cross and follow Him with a full heart, enthusiastically, and to be on a mission always in this earthly life. As His disciples, we should love, be compassionate and caring towards others. Let’s cling to Him and let Him lead us safely and peacefully always, in this new norm of way of life as we discover and rediscover our life in Christ.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy
(Homily on 13th Sunday 2020)