By Bishop José Luis IMC
(On 11 February 2021, I presided Mass for the feast
of Our Lady of Lourdes – live streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
Below is part of the homily)
The virus seems to be everything we can see in this moment. I would like to invite you to look deeper. To me, the virus has been like a magnifying glass revealing an unhealthy society. To avoid being too long, let me just point out a few things to help you understand what I am talking about. You could add your own:
- when the pandemic started and the essential PPEs became available, many countries experienced once again the reality of “corruption”. I remember the day we distributed PPE at Good Shepherd Hospital someone asked us to make sure our help would reach its destination and avoid repeating the same story that was already present in our country. It is a sick society when not even a pandemic, not even a reality affecting us all, could stop the selfishness of those who think they can do without others as far as their own needs are satisfied…;
- lock-downs forced families to stay together. Our statistics talk about an increase of “gender based violence”. We are, indeed, a sick society where those who promised to love each other are able to hurt each other so much;
- now that the vaccines are becoming available, we see once again the reality of the “powerful” having priority access and the “powerless” waiting for leftovers. This, both in the relationship between countries and at national levels. As Pope Francis wrote: “we see numerous contradictions that lead us to wonder whether the equal dignity of all human beings, is truly recognized, respected, protected and promoted in every situation”.
Pope Francis added: “The pandemic has only made it all the more urgent that we rethink our styles of life, our relationships, the organization of our societies and, above all, the meaning of our existence”. (Fratelli Tutti 33)
The virus, God willing, will one day be history. These realities, and others, would continue and our society will remain sick unless we do something about it.
What then is the answer? Mary gives it to us in today in John’s Gospel passage: “do whatever he tells you”. Mary is the first and more faithful disciples of her son. She is the very first apostle pointing to Jesus with her life and words. “Do whatever he tells you”. Do whatever Jesus tells you. It is only then, that the water of our tears will become the wine of our joy.
Do whatever Jesus tells you. It is about “doing”. We tend to believe we are Christians because we worship in our churches, we carry bibles and we pray for God’s help. That is easy. It requires little commitment from us.
In fact, when we pray, many times, we hope God will do all the job, without our intervention. We constantly look for miracles – from pastors and from governments – because in this way we do not need to change: our way of living, of thinking, of relating to each other, our priorities … are not challenged at all.
Being a Christian requires “conversion”. On Wednesday we will be starting our Lenten Season and the very first day we will hear Jesus’ two words: “repent” and “believe”.
Unless you and me believe that what Jesus tells us IS indeed the only way to fullness of life, we will remain in our stubborn ways. We will remain sick.
Repent means to accept that we need to change. You and me because the other reality is that we think that “repent” and “believe” applies to someone else. Someone else is always the reason of our problems. Someone else is the one who has to change.
Unless we change, the usual few of our societies will continue to live as if nothing has happened and the rest will continue to look for ways to survive.
This is the sickness and this is the medicine: do whatever he tells you. Believe, repent. All of us, each one of us so that we may have fullness of life. This is what Mary calls us to do on her feast.