By Cardinal John Dew Every year millions of people all over the world listen once again to the stories of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. For some they may be the only stories from the Bible they hear each year, but at least once a year is better than nothing. In many languages the world over, people hear and ponder on the wonder of Christ being born into our world.
By Cardinal John Dew Recently I watched a short video clip. It was only about a minute and a half, it was one of the many songs, tunes and familiar pieces of music that have been adapted to say something about the Coronavirus and the reality of Covid-19 in our world. You have probably seen many such things yourself, some very funny, some very clever, some making fun of world leaders and the things they have said about Covid-19. This particular one was set to the tune of the famous “Nessun Dorma” from her final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot, “Nessun Dorma” being one of the best-known tenor arias in opera. “Nessun Dorma” meaning “Let no one sleep” is an aria from the final act of the opera. As in the opera, many of us have probably lost a lot of sleep with anxieties and concerns about the Coronavirus.
By Father Neil Vaney Very soon we face a general election. As committed Christians, we may be confused for whom and for what we should vote. Or even gripped by a certain cynicism whether it is worth voting at all, given the reprehensible behaviour and mental states of some members of parliament. The good news is that there are still solidly Christian MP’s and others, more grounded in humanism, who still hope and work for a more just and caring New Zealand. Various parties and interest groups will propose differing policies and structures to achieve such goals. It is not my role to comment on these. What I put forward are various values and principles drawn from our common biblical heritage against which such strategies and goals may be assessed.
By Father Neil Vaney Living through the Covid-19 pandemic has made many of us sharply aware of something we thought we knew but largely ignored. It is the omnipresence of microbes. They dwell on our hands and faces. They can live briefly on doorknobs and railings. They may congregate on an apple that we pick up at the supermarket. Many are friendly; without them we could not live. Others like Covid-19 are concealed weapons able to penetrate nearly all human defences. As we have become aware of these tiny lethal creatures we have been brought short by this reminder of human frailty and vulnerability. We are journeying creatures, destined to death. We have seen two extreme reactions to this truth. The first has been to try to close oneself off as much as possible, in an effort to construct a fortress around ourselves and our families. The second is to accept paying a price to cling to the lives that prosperity has brought. Those who adopt this position argue as follows: certainly, many of the vulnerable will die but in time a vaccine will appear or herd immunity will gradually develop. Fear lurks unacknowledged behind both these options, as well as an unspoken denial of human fragility.
Did you know that the power of the Holy Spirit works better than any disinfectant? Lately, we all have had the experience of regularly disinfecting our hands. But even if doing so is reasonable and necessary, no disinfectant can give you the comfort and sense of security that the Holy Spirit brings. I, too, have experienced that because of his work, I managed to overcome many fears regarding the uncertain future and found the strength for new creativity.
Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19? RECREATION SETTING: colours, pictures, lights depicting hope. Prayer: The empty tomb laughs in the face of death and calls for love to embrace the world. You, O God, have set the pattern for our future – to love as Jesus loves with a joyful heart, kind and caring. Help me, and all of us, to move out from our “tombs” with new found energy and love for one another, leaving lockdown, becoming locked in to love kindness joy The empty tomb is death’s open wound. A gaping hole exposes the power of love unable to be contained, even by death. This is the spark that opened graves, dispelled fear, brought people out of hiding and transformed them into proud, unyielding witnesses. The empty tomb spells the resurrection of Jesus and signals the undying hope of Christians.
Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19? WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER SETTING: a statue or image of Mary, mother of Jesus. Prayer: Togetherness has a new meaning these days. We are together in this lockdown time, in this time shared by people everywhere, but we are separated, apart, and cannot even stand close to one another. This separateness fights a cruel and lethal virus. O God, may we not lose sight of what togetherness really means. Help us cling to unity once restored for we need each other to give life health and meaning. “We’re in this together” has been a clarion call through the nation during the Covid-19 alert, urging the population to act as one – to stand together against a common enemy. But this “togetherness” has meant separation. Social distancing, living a “bubble life”, has emphasised isolation and for many has brought loneliness and sadness. Not being able to be at the bedside of a relative dying of the disease, a most difficult consequence.