The world’s deepest desire currently is for an end to the pandemic. There is an urgency expressed to receive the vaccine; while simultaneously there is a muttering about new variants of the disease, against which the vaccine may not protect a person. This causes anxiety in the public arena. Where can people turn for help? The Government, HSE, WHO and NPHET all strive to collaborate in their work of eradicating the pandemic. Meanwhile the public try to co-operate as best they can living their lives. The media reveals the ongoing strain placed on frontline workers.
However, the Good News always brings hope. Where is God at this time? God is present. God desires the fullness of life for his creation. God sent Jesus so we might know God’s love, care and protection. Our faith in God is a gift received at Baptism. Parents and godparents witness this at Baptism as they hold the lighting Baptismal candle.
At the Annunciation when Gabriel invited Mary to become the Mother of God, Mary disturbed at first, said ‘yes’ in faith to what God asked of her. Mary received assurance from God that ‘with God nothing is impossible’ (Lk 1:37).
In faith, God’s people also believe that ‘with God nothing is impossible’. They believe that Jesus is with them until the end of time, because Jesus made that promise to the disciples (Mt 28:20). God asks us to trust in his goodness and his love. The first disciple was Mary, Mother of God.
When we reflect on Mary, the Mother of God as portrayed in Scripture it is evident that she was a woman of few words. She was a joyful person who enjoyed a deep relationship with God. In her prayer of praise, the Magnificat, Mary recognised the great things that God did for her. She trusted God and she taught Jesus as a child to trust in God. She lived a quiet life with Joseph and Jesus in Nazareth. As a Jewish family, they went to the synagogue and celebrated the Feast of Passover. Mary knew how to love and serve. It is evident in the way she went to visit Elizabeth and when she accompanied Jesus throughout his life.
In his public life, Mary saw Jesus heal the sick, share the Good News and work miracles. She was present with Jesus to the point of his death. Mary endured great suffering as Jesus made his final journey to Calvary. She was a faithful Mother and continues to be a Mother to God’s people today.
Today, 11 February the Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick. In 1992, Pope John Paul 11 instituted this day dedicated to persons who are sick. The day coincides with the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. On 11 February 1858, Our Lady first appeared to Bernadette Soubirous who was fourteen years old. Bernadette gave an account of Our Lady’s appearance to her at Lourdes. She saw Our Lady wearing a white dress with a blue sash. On each foot, she had a yellow rose; her Rosary was also yellow. Bernadette began to say her Rosary and Our Lady stayed as long as Bernadette prayed. In the weeks that followed, Our Lady spoke to Bernadette three times and she asked her to ask the priests to have a chapel built, to wash in the spring of water and to pray for the conversion of sinners.
Bernadette was curious as to who this woman was who visited her. Each time Bernadette asked her, she smiled. Mary said ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’.
God’s people reflect on Mary in Scripture. Mary ‘was betrothed to Joseph’, mother, disciple, friend and one who listened to God’s word. As she accompanied Jesus on life’s journey, she pondered all she saw and heard in her heart.
The Church inculcated a devotion to Mary through the centuries. We read of apparitions of Mary for example, at Lourdes, now a place of pilgrimage. Pilgrims receive a blessing and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
At present due to the pandemic, pilgrims attend virtual pilgrimages to the various shrines dedicated to Mary throughout the world. People in need of healing believe that Mary will lead them to her Son Jesus who will heal them.
Today wherever God’s people are, they pray for healing. They pray for strength and courage for frontline workers who care for the sick. In this extraordinary time of pandemic, they pray for scientists in their work of medical research.
The Church offers God’s people the gift of the Eucharist, the gift of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the gift of prayer for example novenas, prayers, the Rosary and more.
Let us pray especially today, The World Day of the Sick to Our Lady of Lourdes for healing for all who are sick in our world.
VERITAS publication provides a wide range of free online resources on the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Religious Education programme to explore this theme today. Mary, the Mother of God is central to the programme. There are hymns, prayers, video links, and virtual tours of pilgrim sites, interactive activities and the Children’s Grow in Love-e book to support home schooling. Access the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé website:
THINK AND REFLECT:
- How has Covid affected you and your family?
- Browse through your Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé textbook or e- book and find out all you can about Mary, Mother of God
- Invite your family to pray a decade of the Rosary today
- Our Father/Ár nAthair, ‘Sé do bheatha a Mhuire/Hail Mary, Glory be/ Glóir don Athair
- Say: Our Lady of Lourdes’. Pray for us.
- Draw a picture of Our Lady of Lourdes. You can find an image on the website. You may have a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in your house or maybe your grandparents might have one. Do you know anyone who has been on pilgrimage to Lourdes?
- The Bells of the Angelus (Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Rang III/P5)
Sr Anne Neylon