Third Sunday of Lent – 15th March
There is often a desert of good news stories in our lives. The impact of the bushfires and the recent outbreak of the coronavirus have served to identify the places where we are most vulnerable. They cause to focus on situations which seem beyond our control and which can overwhelm us. This is not just in addressing the physical and psychological impacts on our lives but also where we find the wellsprings within us. There can be a sense in which these events can cause us to retreat into ourselves and isolate ourselves from the world. We start to view each other with suspicion rather than friendship. We are called to take precautions for our own health and the health of others, but we need to examine how our behaviour can shift us to become more self-centred rather than other centred.
During Lent, there is the common discipline of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. The question is whether we are ready for the situation when this may be forced upon us due to compulsory quarantine restrictions as in Italy or whether we become used to these quiet pauses in our day where we can reflect on where God may be at work. This is a time where we are called to see what the true wellspring of hope, faith and love is.
The power of intercession at this time for the communities directly affected by the virus is important, but it is equally important that we notice how our own response may be life-giving. There is a need for us to develop a common purpose to develop ways which identify and support what is needed within communities. What are the creative ways in which we can help people to identify the wellspring of life which dwells with them? How do we listen to their stories and help them to become part of the grand story of eternal life?
Fr. John Armstrong