Work on the “invisible bonds” of relationships and “claim” family, said St Joseph parish priest Fr Matthew d’Hereaux at a Mass for family streamed on Facebook live April 2 from St Kizito Chapel, St Joseph presbytery. Fr Jeffrey Supersad concelebrated; Rev Paul Bousignac assisted.
Restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has caused families to spend more together. Commenting on the challenges which physical closeness can bring he said, “you never knew you had so much family, you never knew your house so small, you never knew your family could get to you….”
Referring to the day’s gospel, John 8:51–59, he said one of the reasons Jesus was framed, handed over to the Roman Empire and executed was the “perceived blasphemy” by claiming equality to God.
Fr d’Hereaux said, “Jesus tells them solemnly ‘before Abraham ever was, I am’, and so Jesus is sharing His being, sharing who He is, and not afraid of sharing”. He continued, “Jesus knew …eventually if He continued healing on the Sabbath, flouting religious laws, claiming to be equal to God, He would be executed.”
Jesus was not afraid to share “the inner workings of the Trinity” and embraced being the Son of God, even if it meant He would be crucified.
In the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’, family should be embraced, even if this meant being on the cross. He said couples should claim their marriage.
Fr d’Hereaux said, “I am not foolish, you could be claiming marriage and is only you claiming the marriage and that is pain and is only you claiming the ‘family’ in the family and that is painful. That is the cross of pain, that is the cross of being.”
He disclosed that his mother, who is “not too well” is staying with him in St Joseph and he gave her breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Maintaining social distancing has not been easy, “as dutiful as that is, I cannot hug her, a woman that I love and that pains me. I still have to be son, in a different way. I still have to be family in a different way. I stand by the door and send a kiss, ‘Mom, I love you’ and she reciprocates.”
Fr d’Hereaux said family is beautiful and should be a grace during the lockdown. It is in family that people can be themselves, at their best and worst. He asked, “Can we allow space under lockdown for people to be their best and their worst and loving them as themselves?”
While not excusing bad behaviour, he added that being selfish, moody, eccentric is human. “You have to deal with that, that is a cross and that is the human condition and Jesus redeemed us in our human condition on the cross”. He asked again, “Can you love and be kind and forgiving when that person is themselves?”
Fr d’Hereaux said it is in the family that members are “called out”. He has ten nieces and nephews and they were not afraid to say, “Uncle, yuh wrong. Uncle, I want to challenge you”.
He prayed that the ways of being family—being called out, allowing oneself to be loved at the best and worst, having a sanctuary to be oneself— would be one of the beautiful consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown. —LPG