Today, when in Christian churches public services are suspended, we find ourselves in a similar situation than Jesus’. To start with the good news, that we are with him in this similar situation. Sunday worship is for the people, not the people for Sunday worship. Sunday worship is for people’s health, in the most comprehensive sense. It serves the health of our souls, its eternal health, and also our mental and bodily well-being. Now, the suspension of public service wants to save people’s life and safeguard their physical health.
It is a shock for the people, as Sunday worship is part of our mental well-being, and a tool of our physical renewal. It is a shock for the priest, for whom the Sunday worship with their brothers and sisters is always the high point of their week. This being together with the Eucharistic community is the core of our identity, who we are.
Yet, we can have a look at this serious constraint on all of us in a different way. And this seeing our changed routines differently, is equal in significance to today’s miraculous healing in the Gospel when the blind man regained his sight. In the light of divine grace we can recognise that not coming to church, giving up this part of ourselves, can be done out of love. Our self-discipline can and will save someone else’s life.
‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam (a name means “sent”)’ This sending for us is the beginning of a learning curve. We will learn to see our faith differently, including our church activities. We are called to recognise and live by the Spirit of Encouragement on a daily basis. Our eyes are sent to get use to the light of Jesus’ presence in our worries, in the work of the medical stuff, in the suffering of the sick, in our joint efforts to overcome the threat to our life. We need to keep praying. We need to remain connected with our churches – via prayer and other forms of support. That is why it is important to remain a praying community. Our printouts for ‘Sunday Worship at Home’ might be a good help in order to maintain the prayer life of our mother church via both our personal and these set prayers.
The news, we all know, are terrifying. Still we don’t know whether it will liberate the forces of our ‘the shadow side’. Individual and collective fears, selfishness, antisocial behaviour, God forbid, violence and crime. What has been happening now is equal to the social and mental trauma caused by war. This fourth Sunday of Lent could not be a more timing message. Its name is ‘Laetare’, rejoice! The stakes, as mentioned, are high. Saving lives, containing the virus, social solidarity - are the practical implications. However, there is a crucial aspect to our remaining faithful to God and neighbour. This is the spiritual stake. If we remain a praying family of God - now scattered in our homes but centred on the prayer life of the church - we will have a chance to go through these horrors psychologically unharmed. The trauma can break the psyche of our children and that of ours, and can leave seriously wounded. Remaining daily in Jesus’ healing presence gives us the chance to remain who we had been before the epidemic. All the joys of our live, the banal joys and hopes of it, needs to be preserved and re-planted into the future, when its time comes.
So let this verse of today’s Gospel be our promise and strength. ‘So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came way with his sight restored.’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..