“..& God relented; he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.” ..is covid a disaster inflicted on us by God because of our evil behaviour? a “dis-aster” when we take our eye off the star “astra” ..”dis-astra” the star called goodness, the divine means of guiding us on our journey towards the heavenly manger, the promised land.. ..& who reminded them then?.. Jonah & who has God chosen to remind them.. them & us.. now? “not I Lord, surely?”
“..up..go & preach to them as I told you to..” ; Lord have mercy “..Jonah set out, & went in obedience to the word of the Lord..” ; Christ have mercy “..& the people believed in God..& God relented..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..coincidence or the work of the Holy Spirit?.. we believe in the hand of God, the involvement of the divine contribution, not in the emergence of covid, but in the way we are adapting to the pandemic.. “to live is to change.. to live fully is to change often” words of Cardinal John Henry Newman; a fitting moment, in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to acknowledge his theological contribution, initially to the Church of England & then, after his conversion, to Catholicism.. “the time has come” so too 2000yrs ago as if by divine intervention as John the Baptist, the Voice the preparer of the way, was arrested Jesus, the Word made flesh, got cracking & went into Galilee “the time has come, the Kingdom of God is close at hand” the Kingdom, here & now, close at hand as we react & respond to the virus.. a year ago just now a new disease of fringe interest on news bulletin as it emerged in China that distant suspicious secretive superpower.. & look how far we have come in facing if not yet containing the disaster; humanity facing its worst & seen at its best in NHS & care homes.. reactive spirituality changing lives saving lives “at once they left their nets” their usual exemplary NHS best practice & answered the call to go deeper & further into medical procedures never seen before; new forms of ventilators, drugs developed for other illnesses now redirected to fight covid, critically ill patients airlifted from London hospitals to Newcastle.. ICU staff becoming surrogate family for dying patients without loved ones present “go sell all you own” putting their own lives & lives of their families at risk ”then come follow me” front line disciples, four of them in our own villages, doing just that on daily basis.. their time here among us in earlier ordinary times, preparatory in faith, John the Baptists’ voices in faith like you & I.. preparers being prepared for all they face now in person of Christ for the person of Christ “the Word made flesh” living among us..& whilst this goes on 24x7 in YDH at this very moment others like James & John are “mending their nets” responders instead of reactors ..exhausted; elated at lives saved & lives sadly surrendered into eternal life.. mending their own brokenness; hearts torn apart & with PTSD.. mending & pondering on new ways of fishing & nursing.. different masks more resilient PPE & shockingly even to some of you, more time in prayer, pondering on the involvement of the divine contribution in them & through them.. their value added, which should be our value added, which saves spiritual lives.. for those in our own families who suffer from spiritual covid & what do we do about it? in taking home from this Mass a vaccine called divine grace.. 100% success rate & we gripe/complain about length of homily or spiritual doctor, when we can go up to Abbey & find whole spectrum of doctors, different every week.. “Mummy why does Grandma’s home-made steak pie she makes for us when we go to her on holiday always taste better than the one you make for us each week?”..& when we ponder on James & John mending nets, we think of research scientists desperately working behind scenes in secluded harbours of medical laboratories, forensically researching virus & attempting to discover a vaccine.. few months ago we were told realistically it might be 3/4 years before possibly possibly a vaccine could be discovered, & now in only few months, 3 vaccines have been found tested & vaccination programme is in progress “repent & believe the good news” look back now at your earlier attitude of gloom doom despondency & now believe the good news..& realisation that, on our own, we are journeyman disciples, but with belief in presence of divine grace, the impossible becomes possible.. “for nothing is impossible to God” Mary’s change of attitude from “why me?.. how can this come about” to “let it be done to me according to your word” spiritual covid then the vaccine of grace & she then, & now you, give birth to the person of Christ..& crucial impediment which prevents miracle is your refusal to believe what you have just heard.. “not I Lord surely?” ..”& he could work no miracles there, he was amazed at their lack of faith” in his own home parish in Galilee/Ampleforth.. like Simon & Andrew, James & John, now in covid for you & I, a different calling.. fishers of men & women so far, each of us skilled believers & practitioners of our faith, but now called to go further deeper, in a different style & pace of discipleship as our world society & our faith change reform.. “they left their nets” their known trusted mode of practice of Catholicism “& followed him” into a new adventure “they went after him” no promises no guarantees.. just “believe, & come as you are, & let thee & me together do the rest” I leave you with message from our book “the boy the mole the fox & the horse” it seems to fit as Our Lord calls us to put out from this safe harbour of a Church, preoccupied with what we think needs mending in our lives & hearts, & set out into the storm & heavy seas of covid.. “what is the best thing you’ve learned about storms?” asked the boy “that they make us kinder “ said the horse “& that they end”
“the time has come.. the Kingdom of God is close at hand.. believe the good news” the good news that covid will end..& when? when you stop thinking all you have just heard it is fake news, make-believe, & begin to believe in it & in yourself..& gracefully make it come true.. [3rdSun YrB Mk 1;14-20]