15, March 2020
Message for the Third Sunday of Lent 2020
Hope Does Not Disappoint (Romans 5:5).
Dear Holy People of God, God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!
Let me start by saying that I miss you all this weekend. I miss your spiritual company, your prayers, your presence, your smiles and your love. It feels so lonely here at our parish home at Ste Anne’s this weekend. As I pray the Liturgy of the Hours and celebrate Mass in the chapel of the rectory, I am thinking of you all, of your families and loved ones. I am thinking of your prayer intentions, of your anxieties and likewise of your hopes, especially your hope in Christ, for in the midst of such uncertain, frightful and anxious times, what better place can we place our hope than in the hands of Christ? We are saved by hope, as St Paul tells us in Romans 8:24: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” And again, St Paul says to the Romans and likewise to us here at St Anne’s: “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5).
As we go through this period plagued by the Coronavirus, we too can feel disillusioned and our faith tested: Where is God in all these? To be honest with you, there are no easy answers. In Jesus Christ, we believe that God has entered history – Immanuel, God with us. God is part of this history with all its uncertainties and vicissitudes. However, we can be sure that even as we go through these trying times, we are not alone. God has not abandoned us to face these anxious moments alone. In Jesus, God knows firsthand what it means to suffer, to be anxious, to be in pain, and even to die. Jesus did not take away the world’s sufferings. Rather, Jesus enters into the sufferings of the world and points a way forward by his resurrection. And it is faith in the resurrection that gives us the hope for the present and the future. I wish to urge us all to remember: God is with us, and God will not abandon us. With God, there is a future and a hope.
Given that we cannot celebrate the Eucharist tomorrow as a parish family, I am asking all families, as the Domestic Church, the first Church, to spend time in family prayer tomorrow, for where two or three are gathered together, Jesus is in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). The family is the first Church, and parents, biological or God-parents, are the first witnesses of the Gospel to the children. I will suggest that we all read the Gospel for tomorrow’s mass during a family prayer time: John 4: 5-42. We should also make an act of spiritual communion. This might be an opportunity for us to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist, and to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters the world over who are prevented by many other factors from celebrating the Eucharist on a weekly basis.
Be assured that my Holy Mass tomorrow at the chapel in the rectory will be for all of you and for all your intentions. God bless you all. God is still good, all the time, and his goodness is his presence with us, now and always.
Fr Maurice Agbaw-Ebai