by Bishop Jose Luis IMC
On 20 October 2020, the clergy of the diocese came together at Our Lady of the Assumption for the first time in this year marked by COVID19. Below, the first part of my homily.
The readings we have just heard have not been especially chosen for this celebration but are the readings of the day and, therefore, part of the continuous reading of the letter of Paul to the Ephesians and the Gospel of Luke.
I kept them because I felt they have a message for us today as we come together for the very first time during this 2020 COVID19 year.
I would like to present three images I see in them:
Dressed for action
Today’s Gospel passage says: “See that you are dressed for action”. I found it an interesting statement considering that last Sunday many of you said “goodbye” to the places where you have been serving and are now moving to a new place.
The appointments taking place – to parishes, sodalities and pastoral areas – are much deeper than the ones we had in 2014. I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of you. I believe I visited most (if not all) of you in your parishes to talk about the new appointments. You welcomed them in faith. Your availability is a clear witness of the call you have received and your sense of being “one body”. Your availability is – in this case – the being “dressed for action” that Jesus asks from you today.
Being dressed for action might seem a contradiction in the context of COVID19. The quarantine, not being able to celebrate public Masses for a long time and the call to “stay home” probably made us think it was a time to stop working. As I wrote and said many times in the last few weeks, COVID19 changed the context in which we work but not our call. We do remain “baptised and sent”.
COVID19 might have revealed how used we are to do things “as it was in the beginning, is now and every shall be…” and challenged us to “think out of the box” as it is usually said. We might be used to apply this expression to others but not to ourselves. Hope it is not so as it would mean we believed the Holy Spirit has already shown us what we are supposed to do and nothing else could be expected.
We are much more than “caretakers” of a parish or diocese and – God willingly – we do not see ourselves as “undertakers” either! As Pope Francis told us for Mission Sunday, “the Holy Spirit pushes us and carries us”.
I want to thank you for your contributions to the daily MP3 we have been sending around in our diocese – and probably beyond during this COVID19 pandemic. Your reflection, the support you give to those putting them together, shows how much you understand the need to reach as many people as possible with a word of hope and strength in these trying times.
Let us never forget how much their lives have been affected by the pandemic. While our lives – in many ways – are protected because the Church looks after us, for many families COVID19 made them wonder: “what are we going to do now?” “How are we going to survive?” “Where are we going to find the daily food… the school fees for the children…?”. COVID19 put them questions that deeply affected their lives.
Therefore, let us the continue to be “dressed for action”.