The Archbishops Homily for Sunday, 15 March, 2020.
3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A).
I welcome you all as we gather in prayer through our parish radio or webcam to celebrate our Eucharist. This is a most unusual situation which neither you nor I could have envisaged. There is an air of unreality about our situation. We have been so conditioned by our ability to travel from one country to another, to participate in social gatherings of whatever kind, to be able to recreate and enjoy our sporting interests. During this season of Lent many of you have been making heroic efforts to draw closer to the Lord by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The Mass means so much to you and it is a huge sacrifice for you not to be able to gather here in our Cathedral, participate in the Eucharist and receive the Body of Christ to sustain you as you fulfil your responsibilities as a parent, a grandparent, a single person, a religious or a student. This has to be a very testing and lonely time for you and indeed for all of us. Suddenly we realise how vulnerable we are and we get a reminder of the fragility of human life. In our daily routine we have taken so much for granted and suddenly we find ourselves asking questions, probably becoming impatient with restrictions which are imposed and, at the same time, genuinely worried about how all of this might develop.
The present situation calls on all of us to act responsibly and this will entail making sacrifices, restricting our movements and abiding by the norms which health authorities regard as essential in the current crisis. We have a responsibility for the common good and especially for those who are most vulnerable. As followers of Jesus Christ we must be acutely aware of the responsibility to care for those who are most at risk. While it may not be appropriate to visit, nevertheless a telephone call would be so reassuring for so many who may find themselves isolated at this time. As people of faith we rely not just on the restrictions which have been imposed, but, recognising that we are in most usual times, I encourage you to search for strength, consolation and hope in prayer. I know you have your own favourite prayers and special way of praying. I just share with you one prayer which means so much to me. In difficult situations I pray the Memorare. In this prayer we address the Mother of God as someone who has never turned a deaf ear to prayer.
Recently here in the Archdiocese we launched a Prayer Card which is short, simple but very inclusive. I suggest that you pray those prayers with your family and ask the Lord and Our Lady to help all of us, those who have been infected by Covid-19, the health care workers who attend to the sick and the families who are worried in the present situation.
In today’s Gospel Jesus meets the Samaritan woman on her own ground. He conversed with her at a place which was very familiar to her – the town well to which she probably came every day to draw water. He also entered her life as it was, in all its brokenness and confusion. Here we have a story in very concrete terms. The Lord relates to all of us in this way, from within our own experience. He meets us in our own vulnerability, as it were. We can share with him our concerns about the present, our worries about the future. In prayer the Lord meets us because he has something to offer us, not because he wants something from us. In meeting with us, the Lord empowers us to be a support for others, to be able to rise beyond the crisis of the present and to provide others with hope.