As the whole world has been seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), all of us – whether individuals, families, parishes, institutions or dioceses – have been required to make sacrifices, including many difficult but necessary decisions about matters at the very heart of our Catholic faith and way of life. We know, too, that the Lord allows all occasions – positive and negative – to teach and re-teach us lessons for right living in light of the Gospel. And most of all, God wanted renewal of each one of us. It is in this spirit to consider along with us what the Lord may be saying to his people and his Church through this time of trial. Today, we have come to the third week of advent. On Gaudete Sunday we are ask to rejoice and we know the reason why: the Lord’s coming is near. Hence, we could continue reflecting on the message of the one crying out in the wilderness for “Renewal and changes of heart“. While the situation of COVID-19 continues to develop in our lives and communities, it is increasingly evident that the pandemic has had, and will continue to have for some time to come, a far-reaching impact on all people throughout the world. But the word of God to us today gives us a caution, how is renewal to be undertaken? From the first reading in the prophet Isaiah; he says, there can be no renewal, there can be no stop to sin, there can be no real peace without “God”. In history God will intervene, God will enter and when God enters history, there will be no more threats, because God will intervene. But the Gospel of today completes the picture.
The Gospel says, renewal cannot be simply the intervention of God in human history. Renewal cannot be simply an action of God from heaven. If we want renewal, we must reform our life, St. John says; in other words, for renewal to come out we need the grace of God and our personal cooperation, because it cannot happen by simply praying, by simply acting. Renewal can happen when the grace of God is met with the generosity and goodwill by all of us. These a renewal that we dreamed off; we want a better world, Church and family, “Pray” because all renewal is a gift from the Lord. But it is not enough to pray, we must change. Many times, we want that all covid victims will be healed, front liners be safe and so we pray for them. But let us make sure that our prayer is translated into action of charity. We want peace inside out community, then let us pray for peace, but please make sure that we extend our hands and say “I am sorry for all I have done and I forgive you for what you have done”.
There can be no renewal in our hearts if we don’t pray, there can be no renewal in our communities if we sisters are too much focused on our mission and so on and so forth, putting God aside. Because all renewal is only a fruit of the marriage between the grace of God and the goodwill of man. Our goodwill is not enough and the grace of God will be impotent unless we cooperate with God’s grace. Fr. Palau says “God created you because he loves you; he redeemed you because he loves you; and because he loves you, he calls you by name, searches for you and dies for you” (Letter 88). God wants to save all of us, God wants to end corona virus, God wants a new community, God wants a new you. The grace of God is there, let us not waste it. So renewal is when God blesses us and we cooperate, the season of advent is the season of renewal , because one week after Christmas we will be making as it was in the beginning is now and will be, our new years resolution again but new years resolutions, promises will all be useless unless we are totally open to God. No change without God, no change without us, no change without grace, but no change without goodwill.