KOTA KINABALU (CS) – On Mar 29 Catholics in Malaysia entered into the 5th week of Lent with much sadness and resignation to celebrate the third Sunday without the Holy Sacrifice of Mass.
Mass was suspended since Mar 14, followed by the announcing of the nation’s movement control order (MCO) to curtail movement in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. The nationwide MCO was put into place for the initial period Mar 18-Mar 31, but the continual rising of cases necessitated the extension for further two weeks ending Apr 14
In a bid to sustain the faith of God’s people by leveraging modern technology, online Masses are being live streamed from numerous parishes across the KK Archdiocese.
Preaching from the 5th Sunday of Lent online Mass Mar 28 at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish, Archbishop John Wong assured the faithful that God hears our voice as we, like the psalmist, “cry out of the depths” our pain and anguish in facing the crisis arising from the threat of the coronavirus.
He said “The pain and anguish arising from the enforced isolation, the loneliness from lack of chances to meet up, the loss of so many things, the concern for the future and its uncertainties, etc, forced us to cry out to the Lord ‘Lord, hear my voice!’”, to which the Archbishop affirmed that the Lord hears and knows our cry better than we do.
It has been recorded in Scriptures that Jesus’ response to the cries of humanity has caused Him to work countless miracles, and again as we hear from the Gospel story of Lazarus, how Jesus’ tears mingled with Mary’s and others as He shared the deep anguish of Lazarus’ death before raising him to life.
Today, asserted the Archbishop, Lazarus symbolizes an agonizing and suffering humanity battling the pandemic, and in the raising of Lazarus to life we must know and acknowledge that it is Jesus, our Resurrection and our Life, who has accomplished it, and to Him belongs the victory over human crisis today.
As we listen to the Gospel today, we must recognize that Jesus showed His love, mercy and compassion in a personal way to those He loved, and we do well to respond to this personal love, mercy and compassion which He holds out to us in facing the crisis. Like Martha, our response must be “Yes, Lord I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world”. Yes, Jesus has come into our world, and is with us in our crisis.
To prepare the faithful for Holy Week ahead and Easter, Archbishop Wong advised that in spite of the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic, we must lift our gaze from the darkness and reawaken our Easter faith by focusing on Jesus, who is our Resurrection and Life. – AC