Dear LCCL Brothers and Sisters
The solemnity of the Annunciation fell a day before the national lockdown announced by President Ramaphosa. The Solemnity of the Annunciation is a celebration of hope in God’s intervention and God’s fidelity to his people. It could nourish our reflection as we prepare for the lockdown. This comes as a great sign of hope as we grapple to face the reality that is COVID-19. The world is seized with fear and uncertainty. There is the fear of death, fear of losing our beloved ones and members of our Religious congregations. There is uncertainty about our ability to contain and control this pandemic. We are also not sure what life after the pandemic will be like, socially, economically and spiritually. The very basis of our faith is challenged and at times like these, our calling as Religious should shine as a beacon of light for one another and for the people of God.
The greeting of the Angel Gabriel astounds Mary and she cannot immediately fathom what the Angel means. “Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” It is part of a prayer that we have said many times and which we will probably say many times during the next weeks or months to come.
Indeed, like He was with Mary our Mother, the Lord is with us.
Some have suggested conspiracy theories around the causes of COVID-19. Whatever the cause, one thing is certain: The Lord is with us. “Do not be afraid”, the angel says to Mary. We long to hear and believe these words as we are wrapped in fear and confusion in the face of this global pandemic.
Some might ask where is God in the midst of all this? Will he even hear our prayers? These questions are not unique to our generation and context. The sons and daughters of Israel had these questions during the time when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. They were waiting for the Messiah, the anointed one of God who would deliver them from their bondage. Where was God as they were subjugated under Roman occupation? Did God even hear their prayers? The angel Gabriel brings the answer. The Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us, will be born. We are not alone.
Mary herself is overwhelmed with this news and considers the difficulty of the angel’s message. “How can this be?” This is how most of us feel at this point in time.
How can we talk of hope in these trying times? The numbers of those infected are escalating and many people are losing their lives. Will the lockdown even help us at all? Won’t there be a second wave of the virus?
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”, the angel reassures us. Our God is a God of possibilities. We should entrust our uncertainties, fears and doubts to Him. It is alright not to have all the answers, not to know how things will unfold, yet we surrender to his love and care.
Offering prayers, Holy Masses, adoration, and devotions in our communities during this lockdown will serve as a deep sign of solidarity with the whole world.
We are the servants of the Lord, may it be done unto the world according to his Word
Mary is lucky because, young as she was, she sought communion with her cousin Elizabeth, to share the Good News and for support. COVID-19 has made it impossible for us to connect physically with one another and those outside our communities. We have come to realize the power of touch; to infect, to prevent infection and to heal. We thirst for that connection yet we must protect one another and ourselves.
During the lockdown, we shall consciously share the same spaces yet be totally aware of the need to create the safe distances that prevent the further transmission of the virus. How shall we care for one another and protect one another at the same time? Taking care of our communities’ hygiene, protecting the sick and vulnerable members of our communities, creating safe distances and other measures will be our way of caring and sharing the good news as we fight the evil that is COVID-19.
The reality of the lockdown has fast forwarded our Good Friday – that sombre moment when Christ dies on the Cross and the whole world is engulfed in darkness and silence. Good Friday ushers in Easter for there is no Easter without the Cross. Our approach to this lockdown should not just end with the darkness of the tomb, but with the hopeful anticipation of the new life it will bring. We are, after all, resilient followers of Christ, an Easter people.
This is a time of Grace, a time of renewal. A time to reflect, pray and share. Our witness as Religious men and women is a witness of hope, care for our neighbour and prayer.
In solidarity with those risking their lives to help those in need all over the world, those infected and feeling the pain of isolation and stigma, those mourning their loved ones and those being overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, together we join in prayer and witness together as Religious. Do not be afraid, God has the final word. He is with us.
May the peace of the Risen Christ be with us all and reign upon our beloved country and the entire world during this period!
Pray for us Mother Mary and intercede for our world!
United in prayer
LCCL Executive: Sr Nkhensani, Fr Bheki, Sr Stephany, Sr Marichu, Fr Jude, Sr Thobile, Fr Callistus, Sr Cecilia, Fr Myke, Fr Gerard
Thursday 26 March 2020