in #covid-194 years ago


Most Rev. Charles M. Hammawa

My brothers and sisters of our one Lord and Father of us all, I send you greetings of peace and goodwill. This message of mine is directed to my catholic faithful and indeed to all people of goodwill.
We have indeed woken up to an unprecedented reality in recent times. Millions of men and women and children all around the world are now behind doors locked up in absolute fear and confusion. The world has gone silent on itself and no one is absolutely sure of what next will happen to anyone. Buzzing cities and centres have shut down and all: individual, groups, national and international schedules have within a short time taken a dramatic change and twist. The world has come to a halt.
Indeed the world is no longer as we know it and everyone is affected in one way or the other. Financial and commercial activities have been hit the hardest; medical centres of even reputable standards in developed countries are now overwhelmed. Human life is threatened as hundreds of thousands of people are now infected with the Covid-19 Corona Virus and thousands of people have died already to this virus including also medical doctors and Priests.
Fear has gripped us all especially in this part of the world where truth be told, we do not have the medical or scientific and social infrastructural capacity to survive through this pandemic and come out in one piece. We look ahead and the reality of what is to come is quite grim. We lack the political will, the financial strength and most painfully the national discipline to adhere to life-saving and preventive measures as recommended by the experts. I strongly call on all institutions and establishments especially within my Church, and all groups and persons to strictly adhere to the measures given to by the authorities; both civil, medical and religious.
There are several dimensions to the covid-19 and the interests of persons and the questions raised are quite equally diverse. I want to however call our attention to the spiritual dimension of this reality. It is going to be foolhardy for anyone to over spiritualize this virus and the harm it causes to the human person. This, not withstanding, however, it is going to be the greatest of our mistakes in these dark times not to realise that there is some spiritual dimension to what is facing us now as a human race.
The spiritual dimension to will make us realize once more the place of God even in our world as we have obviously forgotten him. We have created systems, institutions, interests and lifestyles that are selfish and have therefore estranged us from our true identity- sons and daughters of God. This is a golden opportunity to return to God; to bend those ‘unbended’ knees and hardened hearts, to find assurance only in the intervention of God and not in our knowledge and expertise as it is obviously not sufficient in this crisis.
The corona virus can be a strong crisis of faith and equally an opportune time to build stronger connection with the Father; to seek the face of God and to make the world right again. Worship centres namely: Mosques, Churches and prayer centres are getting closed so that the true temples of God; that is our hearts can be renewed in that solemn encounter. The noise we have created is quietening and maybe we can now listen to and for the voice of God. We have been so busy and maybe now it’s time to be still and know that he is God.
We may have retreated in fear and closed ourselves behind locked doors; a sort of replica of the upper room enclosure of the disciples of Jesus who out of fear of the enemy were griped in panic and locked up in fear. We must equally therefore be open to the true Upper Room encounter with the Holy Spirit; the fire that renews and empowers, the paraclete that teaches the truth and reveals the fullness of the will of God, the power that chases away the fear that locked us up in the first place and the breath of God that serves as the wind that guides our ships through this turbulent times.
Like several generations before ours, we will equally survive this pandemic and the world will bounce back to normalcy when the Lord heals us as he will. We will indeed come out of this and when we do we should not count ourselves as mere survivors but as those who now know better. We now know better the true value of things; the frailty of our plans/schedules; and the place of God in our world. We must realise that we are all one but we are not alone.
So we must come out as those who know the wisdom of the word of God and the truth in the Holy Scriptures- time is fleeting or as it is said in Latin ‘Tempus Fugit’. This is the most opportune time to hear God saying to us all- have no fear! He is God.
The demand on us at this time is simple as encapsulated in the words of the Chronicler:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a pandemic among my people, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place- 2Chronicles 7:13-15
May God grant repose to those who have died, may he console those who are bereaved, may he heal us; may he strengthen our leaders, may he guide our doctors and researchers, may he renew his Church and may he reclaim his glory in the universe. Stay safe and know that our God is near. Indeed there is no nation that has her god closer to it than ours.
And to my Catholic faithful, obviously our Holy Week and Easter ceremonies and liturgies are certainly not going to be normal again. I call on you to please accept in good faith the changes and let us be united in prayer even from our own homes and stay safe. The understanding of the family as a domestic church will now be made truly manifest so.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Help of the Sick intercede for us all. Amen
Thank you and God bless you all.

Most Rev. Charles M. Hammawa
Bishop of Jalingo

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