Messages from Bishop Carmel and Pope Francis:
COVID-19 teaches us we are all one human community
In Gibraltar the Bishop responded to the threat of the Coronavirus early.
Bishop Carmel put measures into place to safeguard congregations and priests before swiftly taking the difficult decision to restrict access to Mass entirely.
Now, hundreds are regularly attending daily ‘Spiritual Communion’, services, rosary and adoration online and via tv channels. Speaking from the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe on Mother’s Day the Bishop said that this is a time to reflect on what it is that makes our lives worth living.
That we have to shelve many of our plans and pleasures for the time being. “Its a time to reflect and pray about what Christians should do to show our belief in God. We should show compassion, show that we care and accept the directives that the authorities give us so we can save more lives.
Nothing is going to go back to normal. This is a time to purify ourselves for what is to come. We must try to see what God is telling us. The way God thinks is not the way we think. When Samuel was sent to Jesse’s house to find the King that the Lord had chosen from among his sons, he was presented with Eliab, but the Lord said, ‘Take no notice of his height, for I have rejected him: God does not see as man sees: man looks at appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
So we too must see with the eyes of God, to have Hope and Faith, and God willing we will get through this together. We must praise God for showing us what really matters in Life.”
The Pope also emphasizes the importance of prayer, recalling how the Apostles turn to Jesus to save them during the storm (Mark 4:35-41). “Prayer helps us understand our vulnerability”, he says. “It is the cry of those who are sinking, who feel they are in danger and alone. And in a difficult, desperate situation, it is important to know that the Lord is there to cling to”.
Pope Francis makes no distinction between “believers and non-believers”. People are weeping because they are suffering, he says. “Everyone” is suffering. “We are all children before God”, he adds.
The Pope then speaks of those who are dying alone and without the comfort of their families. He says he was struck by the story of an elderly woman who said her final goodbye to her loved ones over a phone belonging to one of the nurses. “The pain of those who have died without saying goodbye becomes a wound in the hearts of those who are left behind”, says Pope Francis.
He thanks “all the nurses, doctors and volunteers who, despite their incredible exhaustion”, offer themselves, “with patience and kindness” to stand in for family members who cannot be there.
Pope Francis also addresses the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for our future. The current crisis will help to remind us “once and for all, that humanity is a single community”, he says. It will teach us that “universal kinship” is important and critical. We should think about it like a “post-war” phenomenon, he says: “It will no longer be ‘them’. It will be ‘us’. Because we can only come out of this situation together”. Pope Francis concludes saying: “We will need to look even more closely at our roots: our grandparents, the elderly”. We will need “to build true kinship amongst us”.