Hope in the valley of darkness

Another week goes by and it seems as if things are not getting any better. COVID-19 figures are steadily increasing, playing havoc with people’s lives and jobs. Hospitals are jam-packed and struggling to cope, despite the best efforts of the frontliners. Patients who ordinarily would be hospitalised or kept in centres are being sent home to be monitored remotely.

Aug 07, 2021

Fr Gerard Theraviam
Another week goes by and it seems as if things are not getting any better. COVID-19 figures are steadily increasing, playing havoc with people’s lives and jobs. Hospitals are jam-packed and struggling to cope, despite the best efforts of the frontliners. Patients who ordinarily would be hospitalised or kept in centres are being sent home to be monitored remotely.

The political situation seems bleak with Parliament halted again. Even the monarch’s voice is ignored. The ‘frog season’ of changing political allegiances does not augur well for the lives of ordinary Malaysians since the attention is now on the political survival of some of the elite, rather than the needs of the rakyat. The sincerity of some of our leaders seems suspect – what is Truth anymore?

Meanwhile, many are confined to their homes, working online — or worse, unable to work and thus pay the bills. White flags go up and, thankfully, individuals, neighbours and NGOs rally round. Children are confined to their homes and have to cope with online schooling, unable to go out and play with their friends and enjoy a carefree existence. Those who have to work at the workplace are facing the risk of contracting the virus, despite their efforts to stay safe. We are all struggling with being cooped up, and tensions build up, causing marital disputes, violence and increased suicides. And what of the homeless who are exposed to more than just the elements, and the illegal immigrants, who are afraid even to come out to be vaccinated and be exposed to detention or deportation?

It is in such a situation that I find myself struggling to reach out to the people I am called to serve. Thankfully, I work in a parish where many take their mission seriously, and my role is largely to enable and encourage — it is a collective effort. Thus we are kept busy, in some ways even more so than in normal times. The wonders of modern communications have allowed online Masses, outreach and even formations to go on. Where even funerals are severely curtailed, especially when families are unable to attend since they are ill or quarantined themselves, we have had to resort to meeting online to pray together, even for memorial Masses, without being able to be physically there to offer a comforting hug. Thus we soldier on, despite realising that the impact and effectiveness of all this may be less than desired.

More importantly, our efforts to respond to the dire cries for help for even basic necessities must be cranked up if we are truly to be a Church that listens to the cries of the people. Here, I gratefully applaud, and am encouraged by, the generosity of my parishioners and others not belonging to the parish, who have rallied forth to the calls to support our efforts at parish level. Many more efforts go on individually and collectively in smaller groups (including our BECs) and through NGOs.

Much of my attention has also been on encouraging everyone to register for their vaccination, which finally seems to be moving at a faster rate. Sadly, there are some who resist in fear or who believe the ‘weird and wonderful’ stuff they see online, whether on some obscure website or through WhatsApp stories being indiscriminatingly passed on as ‘gospel truth’. Some have even gone as far as to report the ‘deaths’ of individuals without checking their sources, causing anger and bewilderment among dear ones, and embarrassment (and hopefully remorse) in themselves.

On a personal level, there is the sense of fatigue and physical isolation, unable to physically be with my parishioners, family, friends and brother priests. There is the fear for my personal health and that of those with whom I live. Uncertainty abounds! Yes, God is there, but there are also questions directed at God: Why? How long? I continue my daily sparring match with God, while earnestly praying on behalf of the people entrusted to my care. Yet, in all this, the words of the Psalmist resound — “If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort” (Psalm 23:4). In the seeming silence of God, I hear the voice of the Shepherd: Yes, I am with you always, yes to the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Emmanuel – God is with us! He does not abandon his people.

May we each know God’s presence, power and protection as we journey together in this pandemic, doing our best to allow God’s will to be done in our lives.

Total Comments:3

Name
Email
Comments
Eddy W.
Dear Rev Fr. It is true that there are people reporting death without checking sources. Equally true is people choosing not to search for truth about adverse effects and death from the unethical vaccine made or tested with aborted child, blindly relying on WHO, our gov, and the Vatican. Where is justice for them?
God does show every minute he is working through each one of us by using our gifts and strengths to help ourselves and others. He is enabling each of us to demonstrate compassion and humanity.
Anthony Chong chong[email protected]
well said.In the current situation there is no " answer" but we turn to the Lord for solution keeping hope & faith close to our heart today.