An afternoon listening to the reflections of Fr. Hans Magdurulang on “Lessons From The Pandemic, Coping With Uncertainties,” which was organized by the Metro Manila JCI Senate, was a great way to enter into Holy Week.
Fr. Hans, parochial vicar of San Felipe Neri Church in Mandaluyong City, also has a weekly Salita Ng Diyos (Word of God) show on TV Maria.
“We are in the season of preparation. Lent is a time for us to wait and prepare. If you think about it, this is the longest Lent in the history of the church. We were in quarantine Holy Week last year and we still are right now. We can certainly relate our year-long quarantine journey to cuaresma (40 days of Lent),” Fr. Hans said in the vernacular.
“Sickly as I am, I feel blessed to be able to serve the frontliners. Not only the medical frontliners but also the delivery riders, security guards, police, soldiers, grocery and bank staff. Every Monday, I go to Sta Ana Hospital to pray for them and every Sunday, I celebrated Mass in a Mandaluyong hospital when it was still allowed,” he added.
His mother was extremely anxious, but Fr. Hans assured her that God was protecting him. He was quick to add though that he consciously follows all the safety protocols.
“The Lord will take care of us, but He wants us to take care of ourselves also. Taking care of ourselves — when we follow and obey the minimum health protocols — is a sign not only of our healthy mind but also our healthy faith. It reflects compassion. Many say if it’s our time to go then we will go, but that does not mean we should ignore the protocols. We can’t be reckless with a blind faith. We should be responsible,” he added.
“The season of Lent is a time for us to increase our faith. It is easy to be afraid nowadays, even people who do not leave their homes still get infected. Pope Francis gave a beautiful message to allay the fears and anxiety of people when the pandemic started last year. Some asked if the global pandemic is a punishment from God. But Pope Francis said that the pandemic is not a judgement of God but it is for us to judge which is essential and not. As Christians, we believe that God is not ending the world. He is just fixing the world. God is giving us the chance and the choice to fix and correct what is wrong and crooked in our lives,” Fr. Hans explained.
‘You can make it!’
Beset with personal issues and doubts, Fr. Hans shared that he wanted to get out of the seminary in his second year. He sought the wisdom of his mother and her faith in Him through the words “you can make it” made him stay. He said the same four words can motivate the tired and anxious frontliners.
“Who was the last person you appreciated and motivated? It is so easy to point fingers and blame others for everything that happens right now. It is easy to go on a witch hunt for those who made a wrong move. But as Jesus said in the gospel, if you are sinless then cast the first stone. My mother emboldened me by saying I can make it, then adding I should pray more,” he recalled.
This Lent, increase your faith and prayers. If others gave up on you already, for the Lord you are still full of possibilities. Allow the Lord to fix you. Change your wrong thoughts about others, your wrong words, your wrong intentions.
“Do you know that some parents find it difficult to leave this world in their dying bed because they are still worried that they have not prepared their children and brought them to God? Sadly, the pandemic closed the churches. But not really, because every home has become a church. Families have heard Mass together online, no more excuses to even be late for Mass! The best thing to do when you are locked down is to kneel down. More prayer, more power. No prayer, no power,” Fr. Hans admonished.
“You are down, but you are not yet done. We are all down maybe, but not broken. This pandemic made a lot fall but our faith will save us. Lent is not just about the death of Jesus. Lent is preparing for the victory of Christ. We are Easter people,” he proclaimed.
Fr. Hans said that the pandemic should have made us realize that we do not know everything, we can not do everything and we are not everything. For some, that realization brought about a renewal of faith. For others, severe depression.
“A lot of people are suffering in silence. Do not judge. We do not know what people are battling with. Faith without action (good deed) is dead. This Lent, increase your faith and prayers. If others gave up on you already, for the Lord you are still full of possibilities. Allow the Lord to fix you. Change your wrong thoughts about others, your wrong words, your wrong intentions,” he encouraged.
Do not find time to love, to forgive, to help, to understand, to reconcile. You have the time,” he reminded his audience, who a year ago floated aimlessly in a light-speed world that has since been disrupted to an extended pause.