NUMEROUS EVENTS IN history changed the course of human life. In the future, people will be talking about a world before and after Covid-19. In little more than two months’ time, over half a million people across the globe became infected and over 33,600 people have lost their lives to this unseen enemy.
This year, a season of Lent that began without the Liturgy of the Ashes is heading for an unprecedented, quieter culmination with no blessing of palm leaves, no washing of the feet, Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper and no Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. Complying with the measures of the civil authorities, people have been encouraged to stay home and for nearly two months, no public Mass has held in parishes.
A Holy Week without any Church services in common has no precedence. In view of the lockdown around the world, the Congregation for the Sacred Liturgy has already issued detailed norms for the Holy Week Liturgies, encouraging people to be united with their parish communities and the universal Church through participation in the prayer services and liturgies that are now streamed over the Internet.
But on a positive note, many from different parishes in Hong Kong spoke about the opportunity for a fruitful time of Lent. The season of Lent reminds us of prayer, fasting and works of charity. The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us of our responsibility for mutual support and—especially—concern for the needy. Numerous parishes, religious communities and Church groups had mask donation campaigns and distributed essential commodities for the neediest around their neighbourhood.
Numerous priests have taken up social media platforms to share the Word of God and livestream Church services. People have an excellent option of listening to various bible reflections—not only from Hong Kong but from around the world—to gain a better understanding of the Word of God. Many priests took to social media to accompany their parishioners virtually.
During Holy Week, these realities are worth considering: it is not true that Holy Week is not taking place this year because we now see the Christ embodied in the medical personnel dressed in their protective gear in hospitals; we see the bruised body of Christ in the millions who are in agony.
A worthy way to fulfill one’s Christian obligations is by taking care of the sick and those who are traumatised. Let us not forget to see Jesus in our doctors who fall exhausted, with humble Cyrenians helping at every step: guards, nurses who toil, elbow to elbow, without rest.
Hence, let no one say that the suffering Christ will not come out in procession this year as long as there those thousands of heroes who spend the nights awake to supply hospitals, markets, medical shops. Jesus is moving with us through all those people who keep our city clean, and all those people who keep our public transport system moving.
When we hear of so many people who have buried their loved ones, let us not forget the Pieta, the sorrowful mother with her Son on her lap. And when we are scared of going through the Sepulchre, we have the strength of the One who has overcome the world.
Maybe there are no Stations of the Cross with carved images, but Christ meets our soul in a thousand hidden faces, without candles and bells. It will be a Holy Week more than ever, and a very real one. jose