Sunday, 22 March 2020

Faith amidst Coronavirus, Lent 4 Sun 2020, Mothering Sunday

Jn 9:1-41
I’m speaking to you amidst the coronavirus crisis that we are experiencing, aware that we don’t have public Mass.
I’m planning to continue to offer a sermon text via my website on Blogger, with an accompanying audio, which as a podcast won’t sound quite the same a recording of a sermon.
But I hope this will be of help, and I’ll continue it as long as people keep reading and listening.
I’m thinking of you, and praying for you
Praying for our parish especially, but for all my listeners and readers 
Let’s all pray that our parish comes through this whole

Today, I’m going to connect three things:
Seeing with faith, even in midst of difficulty;
Mothering Sunday;
and, Our heavenly Mother, and the national re- consecration to her.

I know I was blessed with a mother and father who raised me in such a way that I find it easy to believe that there is someone in charge who is reliable, organised, dependable, 
someone who has a plan, someone who is working for my welfare.
If that’s been your experience too, then today is a day to be thankful for our mothers, to thank them if they’re living, to pray for them if they’re dead.
I know not everyone has had such mothers, that God finds other ways of communicating these truths to us.

But, for all of us, there are times when we struggle to have a clear sense that God is in charge, that God has a plan.
Being in the midst of this crisis likely to become such a moment for most of us.
We struggle to see that God is at work.

Our gospel today is about a man who could see, a blind man who was given sight (Jn 9:1-41).
The gospel text develops the irony between the man who has physical sight given to him, and the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees who fail to see that God is right there in front of them in the person of Jesus.  They fail to see that God is there, even though He has just worked a miracle and given sight to a man born blind.  
Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”(Jn 9:32-33)

When looking out at the crisis that envelopes us, 
are we spiritually blind, 
or, do we have spiritual sight, the sight that comes with faith?
None of us can “see” in the sense that we know the details of God’s plan.
But faith, namely, that TRUST by which we accept His promises, 
faith enables us to trust that He does have a plan. 
“That all things work for the good of those who love Him”(Rom 8:28), 
even through what we are living through.

Let me point out a human sign that reminded me of the goodness in human nature.  
This week I phoned about 200 homes, and emailed others, our entire parish database.  
I told people the sad news that there is no public Mass.  
I asked you, if elderly, if you had food.  
I asked you, if fit, if you could help delivering food.  
Let me tell you this: 
I was deeply encouraged by the fact that almost every elderly parishioner I phoned told me that you already had friends and neighbours who had approached you to help you with food.  
It’s a testimony to the charity still in our society, 
a reflection of the better side of our human nature.  
As we fear for the worst now, and the reports of panic buying can portray a lesser side of human nature, let me point out to you this great sign of human goodness that I’ve seen.

Seeing human goodness can give us greater confidence in the fact that God is good, He is who is source of all goodness.
Seeing human goodness can strengthen our faith in Him.

But, if we don’t have such faith, what can we do?
Well, we can turn to her, the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Heavenly Mother,
turn to the one who DID have faith to trust in His promises 
This week, on Wednesday the feast of the Annunciation, is when our nation’s bishops will rededicate our nation as Our Lady’s Dowry, which we would have all done communally in parishes next Sunday.  
Instead, we now will have to unite ourselves with this privately, not publicly, but it remains a great thing to unite ourselves to.
Who do we turn to when we are in need?  Our Mother, our Heavenly Mother.  
Let’s entrust ourselves it her.
Who do we turn to when our faith is weak and shaken? 
To her who had faith.
The Blessed Virgin, had the angel appear to her and ask her a very weird thing: 
would she be the mother of God? 
She responded with trust.
She knew her scriptures, she knew all the times in the past when God had been faithful to His promises.  All the times in the past when He asked difficult things of people but then strengthened them to carry it out:  Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, and so on.

For ourselves, we are being asked something weird too.
We’re not being asked to be the mother of God.
But we are being asked to live through a horrible spiritual dislocation 
-to be without the Mass, to be without physical communion.
The Mass is still being offering, in private, by priests in ‘social isolation’.
You can, spiritually, at a distance, unite yourself to that offering, unite yourself to that prayer and sacrifice on the altar.
You can, also, spiritually welcome the Lord Jesus into your heart, making what is called a ‘spiritual communion’, because you can’t get to physical communion.
This is what is being asked of us, this is the only course we can see before us.

There are prayers you can download to help you do this here
and you can join daily prayers here
and there is some great advice from the Catholic Truth Society here
and more at our parish website here, including watching Mass online.

To such that up.
Mothers help their children see, 
see that there is a hand guiding them.
The man born blind was given sight, 
not just physical but the sight of faith.
Let’s entrust ourselves and our nation, Our Lady’s Dowry of England, back to our heavenly Mother to lead us through.

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