‘Remain in Christ during pandemic’ says Archbishop
By Raymond Syms
With a pandemic raging, bishops worldwide have called on their faithful to prayer, and to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.
In a special liturgy last Sunday, it was the turn of the bishops of the English-, Dutch- and French-speaking Caribbean islands to invite Catholics in the region to seek our Mother’s help.
“By imploring the incomparable help of Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, we invoke her solicitude upon our country and ask that she intercedes with her Son, Jesus to hear the prayers of her children who seek protection from the ravages of the coronavirus, healing for those who are ill, wisdom and courage for those who assist the sick and distressed, and eternal rest for those who have died,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said as he reconsecrated the Archdiocese of Port of Spain and the Diocese of Bridgetown, Barbados where he is the diocesan administrator. The special liturgy began after Communion.
The Archbishop was joined via Zoom by priests for the Mass which was livestreamed from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Preaching the homily on the Sunday’s gospel (Jn 14:1–12), Archbishop Gordon said the text was an invitation to understand what God intends for every disciple.
Giving context, he said Jesus was speaking during the Last Supper and His disciples were terrified of what was to come. He said the context was not dissimilar to today.
There was societal challenge, “poverty is a new reality for some” and society cannot just “flip a switch and move forward”. He noted that the price of oil was down and regional “tourism is no more until COVID-19 is behind us”.
“This is a moment of great terror for our Caribbean region…what we are seeing ahead of us is incredible suffering because of fear and trepidation… but what does Jesus say to us? ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me’.”
The Archbishop indicated another section of the text which showed “incredible intimacy… a language of bridegroom to bride.” Jesus is using “the imagery of nuptial union” when He said He was going away but ‘I shall return to take you with me’.
Where He says, ‘There are many rooms in my Father’s house’, He invites us to abide in Him, explained the Archbishop. Heaven is “our final destination where we are remaining with Him and He is remaining with us”.
On the text ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’, the early Christians were called ‘the People of the Way’ who were on a journey to Heaven. This new way is Jesus Christ, he stated.
“There is a truth bigger than our scientific truth and that truth is that Jesus Christ is the Beginning and the End. He is all encompassing; He is the great ‘I am’.”
Archbishop Gordon said that in this pluralistic world, everybody claims they have a truth but Jesus is saying, He is the truth that guarantees every truth. “Truth is not a prospect; it is not something to be evaluated. Truth is a person and that person is Jesus Christ.”
When Jesus said He is the life, He is claiming divinity and is the way to eternal life. “I am the life force that allows all life to live,” he said. The Archbishop added that Christ is calling on believers to the life of the Trinity and “participation in the life of Trinity is why we should not be afraid…We will experience the fullness of living that could only be had if we remain in Him”.
Wishing all mothers a Happy Mother’s Day, Archbishop Gordon said usually it is the children who bring gifts to the mother “but we are asking our Mother Mary to bring a gift to us.”
“We pray today for an end to COVID-19, we pray today for the resilience of the Caribbean community. When we turn towards the Father, we will know that God is with us and we have nothing to fear.”
He ended, “We ask God to have mercy on us as a Caribbean people, to bring the Caribbean people to know the loving kindness of God, the tenderness of His care, and the maternal care of His mother. We turn to God and know as we remain in Him, He will remain in us and no matter what we will face we will have no fear.”