The apostolic administrator of Harbin issued a pastoral letter. The epidemic brings out fear of death, anxiety, and fragility. The resurrection of Jesus “changed the fate of human beings enslaved by death.” People should be “witnesses of joy” in society, especially to the sick and infected. Don Bosco is an example. The Virgin Mary will protect.
Harbin (AsiaNews) – Mgr Joseph Zhao, apostolic administrator of Harbin (Heilongjiang), has issued a pastoral letter in which he says that to lift up one’s heart to fight the coronavirus outbreak in China and the world, one must “follow Jesus Christ” and “return to the source of life.”
The prelate urges his compatriots to “defeat enemies stronger than the plague: such as fear, death, bondage, apathy, selfishness, despair, distrust” amid a sense of isolation, lockdowns of cities, and mask shortages.
The letter is a real Christian proclamation of the Resurrection at the time when the “threat of death, the inner anxiety and fear truly reveal the fragility of life, the limitations of technology and healthcare, and the helplessness of human beings in dealing with their own future destiny.”
Jesus’s Resurrection from the dead “changed the fate of human beings enslaved by death, making all those who believe in and follow Jesus the victors over death and sharers of God's life with Jesus Christ.”
Confessing is a necessary first step for a change of heart. “During these anti-epidemic days, we have more time to return to our inner self,” which “is the place where people themselves meet God.” Such “Closure and isolation can promote this hard-won moment of grace – we have to stop living in mediocrity and begin to reflect on the meaning of life seriously”.
To do this we must stop being “arrogant”, belittling “the existence of God”, worshipping “money as an idol”, boasting of “our work and career”, stressing “vanity and desire”, ignoring “the feelings and needs of others” and becoming selfish, not speaking out for “the public welfare and for justice”, destroying “the natural and human environment”.
This is possible because “God's style is treating sinners with compassion.”
Be positive and open to others
The certainty that "God can draw good from evil" means that the current epidemic can have something positive. We can be “witnesses of joy” in society, especially towards the sick and the infected, who are not viruses, but “sacred with a dignity just like us. No one has more right to be taken care of and to be shown concern than brothers and sisters who have been infected.
“We should also do our best to offer love and to strive for proper treatment aside from praying for their recovery.” Leading the way, “the front-line medical staff have shown the professional ethics of doctors.” Likewise, everyone should “live out the love of working together, helping each other and loving others as ourselves.”
Like Don Bosco
The power of perseverance comes from heeding and following Christ as true disciples, with the Mother of Jesus as a model.
The letter ends citing Saint John Bosco who, during the cholera outbreak of 1854 in Turin (Italy), told children that they would not be affected by the disease, provided they took spiritual as well as medical precautions, like “keep[ing] your soul pure, [. . .] not commit[ing] a mortal sin,” and “rely[ing] on the protection of the Virgin Mary”. As Mgr Zhao notes, none of the children were infected by cholera.