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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

A Perspective on Covid-19 (Part 2)

“We should not stay away from our assembly”

(Heb 10:25a)

March 13, 2020

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Cor 13:13).

Yesterday, President Duterte imposed what is essentially a lockdown on the National Capital Region (NCR). Today, several bishops in Metro Manila cancelled Masses—in the dioceses of Manila, Cubao and Novaliches. The government prohibits mass gatherings. The bishops prohibit gatherings for Mass.

I am distressed. I do not believe the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines necessitates these dire measures. We only have 52 infections and 5 deaths. And while the safest moves are what have been done, these will have a big negative impact on the economic situation, and much more importantly for us, on the spiritual situation.

As Catholics, as the people of God, what we need to do is to pray, and to pray more intently. Yes, we do so in our personal prayer time. But we also need to come together as God’s people, enter His house, and worship Him in holy attire. “We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10:25). We must come together for the Holy Eucharist, and receive our Lord in Holy Communion.

The day is drawing near. We are in the end times. Plagues and pestilence are signs of the end. These are chastisement for the great sins of the people. There is ongoing apostasy in our Church. Most Catholics are lapsed and not practicing. There is need for repentance for our sins. In the Mass we confess our sins. We pray, “I confess to Almighty God ….” We need God’s mercy. In the Mass we pray, “Lord, have mercy.” We need the healing and grace and strength that come in the Eucharistic bread. We hear with joy the priest’s words: “The body of Christ.” And at the end of the Mass, we heed the words of the priest as he says, “Go.” We go and proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. We share Christ with others. We help bring them to repentance and transformation in Christ.

In dire times such as now, we are not to flee from the Eucharist. Rather, we are to enter more deeply into it.

I actually have one suggestion that flies in the face of all human precautions, where the sick are told to stay at home. I propose that the sick be brought to Mass to be prayed over. “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up.” (Jas 5:14-15a). The priest can anoint the sick person with oil, with the whole congregation joining in prayers over him, hands outstretched. Let Jesus be able to tell the sick person, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” (Jn 5:8).

Do we have supernatural faith? Do we believe God heals and our prayer of faith brings forth that healing? Do we believe in miracles? Do we believe God can withhold His chastisement when we repent and turn back to Him? Do we trust in Him to protect us from COVID-19 when we honor Him with our presence at Mass?

The sacraments are what God has given us for sanctification in the Christian life. These are Reconciliation, the Eucharist and Healing of the Sick. These are spiritual weapons to wield against the enemy that seeks to keep us from receiving our Lord. Why should we turn away from them?

We also need to pray intently. I recommend a regular praying of Psalm 91. To combat COVID-19. To reverse 19. 91 versus 19. This is prayer for security under God’s protection. Among other things, we pray that God will rescue us “from the destroying plague” (v.3b), so that we need not fear “the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.” (v.6). This is a prayer for God’s holy warriors. Though 52 are infected and 5 die, “though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come.” (v.7).

We cling to God and beg for His mercy. But in Him we can be assured: “No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.” (Ps 91:10). Now that is better than any vaccine.

God bless you all.

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