Keeping Faith In Times Of Trouble

Dear friends in Christ, in today’s gospel from John 4.43-54, we hear that Jesus was back in Cana, the place where he performed his very first miracle (Jn 2:11). When a royal official in Herod’s government heard that Jesus was in Cana he hurriedly traveled about 20 miles from Capernaum to beg him to come and heal his son who was at the point of death.

An important question one should ask is; why did the official come seeking Jesus? He probably heard the fame and the extraordinary signs and wonders that Jesus was performing. He probably heard that Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana; that he cured the man that suffered an infirmity for 38 years and was at the pool of Bethesda in John 5; that Jesus opened the eyes of the man born blind in John 9; that he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11. But above all, the official approached Jesus because he had faith and trust that Jesus was able and capable of healing his dying son.

When the official encountered Jesus he pleaded, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus did not comply. He did not follow the official to his house in Capernaum. He simply said, “Go, your son will live.” Once again the man demonstrates deep faith and trust in the power of Jesus because he neither doubted nor insisted to bring Jesus to his home.  When Jesus said to him, ‘Go…’ he trusted in his words and went home. Before he got home, his servants broke the good news that his son was alive and it was at the exact same hour when Jesus said to him, ‘your son will live.’ He was so overwhelmed with joy that his entre household also believed in Jesus.

Today, we are invited to trust in Jesus in spite of the storms in our lives. We need to hold on to our Christian faith even when life does not seem to make sense. Jesus never said life would be easy. He says, in life you will face trials and tribulations (Jn 16:33). I understand it is tough to talk about faith in Christ especially at this time when COVID-19 is causing untold pain and suffering in our world. How can we talk of faith in Christ when the world is shaken to its foundations by the mayhems of COVID-19? How can we have faith when God seems not to care?

 In the midst of the storm of COVID-19, in the midst of the rising death toll, I want to remind you that the Lord has not abandoned us. He has not forgotten us, for he says, I will never forget you my people. ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Is 49:15).’ God is still on his throne. Keep an attitude of faith for God will make a way even when there seems to be no way because with him all things are possible.

Fr Eugene Chianain Song, Cfic

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Sunday Reflection 4th Sunday of Lent March 22 2020

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 22, 2020

Who sinned?

Dear friends,

Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent or Laetare Sunday, which comes from the entrance antiphon “Laetare Ierusalem” (Rejoice, Jerusalem, Isaiah 66:10). Today we rejoice because we are halfway through the austere Lenten season marked by intensive fasting, prayer and almsgiving. We rejoice because we are slowly but steadily approaching the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the passion, death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. We rejoice because God through his Son Jesus Christ has entered our sinful world and shown us his mercy and compassion by setting us free from the darkness of sin.

In today’s Gospel from John Chapter 5, we read that Jesus was walking along with his disciples when he came across a man born blind. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’ This question was prompted by a prevalent Jewish assumption that suffering and sickness were a logical consequence of personal or ancestral sin. Jews believed that there was a correlation between suffering and sin. Things don’t just happen. Everything happens for a reason. Jesus debunks the theodicy that sickness and suffering are divine retributions or a form of karma for sins committed. He points out the blindness of his own disciples saying, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents. Rather he was born blind so ‘that the works of God might be made manifest in him’ (Jn 9:3). In other words, he was born blind so that the Lord will use his situation to manifest his power, care and compassion to those who suffer.

As the gospel story continued, Jesus did something spectacular, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). The man obeyed and came back with his sight fully restored. This miracle reminds us that the Lord is with us and cares about the pain and grief that we experience in our daily lives. It also portrays Jesus as God who has power and authority over every kind of disease and infirmity.

Dear friends in Christ, today we are anxious and petrified as we wrestle to contain Covid-19, which is causing tremendous mayhem, anguish and agony across the world. Watching the news and reading stories on social media is depressing as new infections and fatalities are reported every blessed day. Many Christians are now asking, is God punishing us for our sins?  Is God furious because we have dismissed belief and faith in God from our lives? Is God angry because we have kicked Him out of our governments, out of our schools and out of the public square? Is God saddened because of escalating secularism, individualism, relativism and militant atheism in the world? It suffices to state that Covid-19 is definitely not about an angry God punishing his own children, for God is love (Deus Caritas Est).

However, this insidious virus devouring every nook and cranny of our lives allows us to come to terms with our broken human nature and our urgent need for God. This is a time when we must create an intimate personal relationship with Jesus because with God all things are possible. When suffering, misfortunes, pain, loss, disaster, epidemics and pandemics like Covid-19 afflict a people and a nation, which is deep-rooted in God, then it brings out the strength, the beauty, the nobility and the endurance within the hearts of its people. As Saint Paul testifies, ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Rm 5:3-4).

My dear people, we cannot win this battle on our own. We must fight on our knees in prayer and adoration. We have heard Pope Francis’ relentless call for the world to join in prayers. Prayer is the key to conquer and subjugate this monstrous virus that is posing a colossal threat to our very existence. May our Blessed Mother, the “salus infirmorum,” “health of the sick” intercede for us all.

Fr Eugene Chianain Song, Cfic

 

God Bless & Stay Safe!

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ALL WEEKEND AND DAILY MASSES CANCELLED AT IMMACULATE CONCEPTION PARISH

Read Cardinal’s entire message

God Bless & Stay Safe

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Reflection for Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2020

My dear friends, today the church celebrates the solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, foster father of Jesus Christ and Patron of the Universal Church. In the gospel taken from Saint Matthew (1.16, 18-21, 24a), we read that Mary had been betrothed to Joseph of the House of David. Based on Jewish law, Mary was the wife of Joseph because betrothal established a juridical bond between the two parties. But before they lived together, Mary was found to be pregnant. How shocked and disappointed Joseph must have felt given that he never had intimacy with his wife. 

Joseph, being a righteous man, decided to divorce Mary quietly without exposing her to public shame and ridicule. An angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” It is important to note that, when the angel announced to Mary that she will conceive and bear a son ((Lk 1:28), the two actually had a tête-à-tête. Mary had a chance to talk with the angel and to express her thoughts, worries and above all to give her consent with her Fiat (Yes).  But in the case of Joseph, the angel of the Lord merely appears to him ‘in a dream-admittedly a dream that is real and reveals what is real’ (Pope Benedict XVI, infancy narratives, Jesus of Nazareth, 41).  

Joseph was not just told to keep his pregnant wife, he was dictated the name of the child, Jesus, (YHWH is salvation), he was told the child’s mission on earth; ‘He will save his people from their sins’ (Mt 1:21). He will not become a carpenter like his foster father but a saviour of mankind. In his exegesis of this text, Pope Benedict XVI says, “Only a man who is inwardly watchful for the divine, only someone with a real sensitivity for God and his ways, can receive God’s message in this way.” Joseph referred to in the gospel as “a righteous man,” changed his plan and did as the angel of the lord commanded him (Matt 1:24). 

My dear friends, the angel of the Lord entrusted the Holy family to the care and protection of Joseph and Joseph did not disappoint. Rather than silently divorcing Mary, he took her in and protected her and the child. He also protected the child when Herod wanted to kill him.  The angel appeared to Joseph again in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you (Matt 2:13). 

My dear people, today we are urged to imitate the example of Saint Joseph and to become protectors of our friends, families, neighbours, the elderly, the homebound and lonely people in our communities especially at this time when the world is being threatened by the monster called coronavirus. Consider helping them with grocery, pick up their prescription drugs, and give them a call just to check in on them. Be your brother’s keeper. 

In everything you do, respect the recommendations from local health officials in order to stay safe. Our prophetic mission as priests compels us to pray for those infected or affected by this pandemic and also to reiterate the litany of preventive measures put in place by medical experts, political and ecclesial authorities to contain the spread of the virus. Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, sneeze and cough into your sleeve, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, avoid contact with people who are sick, stay home if you are sick, avoid gathering of more than fifty people, social distancing etc. Many Bishops have cancelled Public Masses, parish meetings and events for the duration of this medical emergency all in an effort to contain the spread of the disease and save God’s people. Let us pray that Saint Joseph may intercede for our world and keep us safe from the menace of COVID-19. 

Fr Eugene Chianain Song, CFIC

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