THE MESSAGE OF PALM SUNDAY: COVID-19 AND THE GIFT OF RESILIENCE

April 5, 2020frjohnma

Rev. Fr. John-Mary Ntol Atep

Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again – Nelson Mandela

On this day we celebrate Palm Sunday of the passion of the Lord, I prayerfully wish you a fruitful conclusion of our Lenten journey and spiritual exercises which are meant to usher us into the highest celebration of our faith – the Passion, Death and Resurrection – the Paschal Mystery of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have heard and read several theories that proponents and well-wishers have opined as its causes and effects on our humanity and our world. All the same, first things first: May our beloved souls that have died as a result of the same virus, rest in perfect peace. Amen. Second, through the saving power and grace of Jesus Christ and through the intercession of Our Mother Mary, Health of the Sick, may those who are affected by the virus and are struggling to experience speedy recovery, regain their well-being. Amen. And may those of us who are not yet infected by the virus be under the guidance and maternal care of Our Lady Undoer of Knots – Amen. St. Corona: Pray for us!

The times are hard and challenging! This is not the time to chastise ourselves especially with end-time revelations and messages because we are already traumatized as a result of fear and panic from Corona-virus pandemic. We need more hope, because amidst all interventions, hope will not disappoint us (Rom. 5:5). However, we need to tell ourselves the truth because truth heals. It is high time to remind ourselves that in the history of the world, there are many signs to justify the connection between sin, lawlessness and plagues. The ten plagues of Egypt are permanent practical evidence for us (Exodus Chapters 7-11). God permitted a series of ten plagues to pressure the Egyptian ruler – Pharaoh in order to allow the children of Israel to move from Egypt to the Promise Land and worship Him. The good news is that there is something more about our current pandemic.

The celebration of today’s Palm Sunday of the passion of the Lord is a call and the grace to see beyond the swinging of palm branches and other instruments. We are all in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is Palm Sunday celebration saying to us in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis? Etymologically, from Latinized form of Greek, krisis/crisis means “turning point in a disease” (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen). Literally, it means “judgment, result of a trial, selection.” So, crisis as a term is from the ancient Greek – krisis, or judgement, “to separate, decide, judge.” We gather from the root meaning of the word crisis that crisis supposed to be moments of choices, decision making or bouncing to the opposite of a crisis moment. That crisis is a moment of opportunity! It is a test of character, a test of the attitude of discipline (Heb. 12:6). Meaning, a crisis is not just a bad situation but a point in life to test our transformative power or potentials. Something that must be renewed in our psycho-spiritual life is the fact that says at baptism into Christ, we had experience death. So, we live with our various deaths and when such belief and conviction is properly acknowledged and appreciated then we can say we are resilient people. Resilience means the strength of will to carry on with life irrespective of several adversities and threats. A resilient soul has the philosophy that says there is a way when and where there seems not to be a way. It means that crises are meant to fuel our resilience especially when we see them as opportunities. Hence, the saying crisis is dangerous opportunity. But, when the word is used or applied in the negative sense as it is usually done, then it is devalued.

The foregoing understanding is what we need to carry on in life. Jesus Christ whom we celebrate on Palm Sunday is part of our crises world. Scripture confirms that “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered  and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). What does this experience of Jesus suggest to us? It says that all events, encounters, circumstances are helpful because they become useful information for us. We need to cultivate or adopt factors that support the attitude of resilience. This is where we are reminded of our first potent force in heaven and on earth – a sound relationship with God. Jesus had His way in our crises world through His relationship with His Father whom He calls Our Father – “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7). It goes to say, “There’s a spiritual solution to every problem” asserts Wayne Dyer. This corroborates with the Angelic saying, “For nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).

Furthermore, we need to always have a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Our life is more than any crisis. We have the innate abilities to either surrender to the crises affecting us or to say I have a reason (s) to live and accept the crisis and be in full control of it. Frederick Nietzsche states that, “That which does not kill you make you stronger.” Again, when in crisis we ought to assess ourselves – am I an egg or a ball? This is where Robert Schuller’s book title comes alive Tough times never last, but tough people do. Say it louder: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”― Maya Angelou.

Comments (25)

  • Ngunan

    April 5, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you Fr for this compelling message of hope at this difficult time, calls us back to what is needful.

    1. frjohnma

      April 5, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      Thanks a lot for your words and compliment. Be blessed always

  • Pauline Otu

    April 5, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Amen. Thank you Father & happy Palm Sunday

    1. Fr John-Mary Atep

      April 5, 2020 at 6:26 pm

      Thanks a million times for your tremendous words and compliment. Remain blessed. Amen

  • Martin

    April 5, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    These are indeed soothing words for my present situation.
    Thank you Fr. JohnMary for your kind reflection.

    1. frjohnma

      April 5, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks you too for giving a thought to the reflection and be blessed always. Amen

  • Émma chenge

    April 5, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the deep, reflective and refreshing message especially in this most trying period of both our nation and the church. It is our fervent hope with faith that the benedictions of the holy week will replace the strips of hate, hunger, despair, poor leadership and insurgency with all that our risen lord came to institute.

    1. frjohnma

      April 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      I am so glad to reap from your very insightful comments and prayers. God bless and heal our world, our nation and our hearts. Amen.

  • Francis-Mary

    April 5, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Timely message in these trying times. Well-done Fr. More grace always.

    1. frjohnma

      April 5, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks dear brother

  • Anajekwu Jacinta

    April 5, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you Fr ,This is very inspiring & thoughtful message. God bless you.Thanks for this link once more.

    1. frjohnma

      April 5, 2020 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks be to God. We pray for hope and hope all through. Amen

  • Patricia Onah

    April 5, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Sometimes, it difficult to stay strong when I’m bombarded with bad news. Thanks Fr. for igniting hope in me. Your reflection has helped to revive my soul and lighten my spirit.

    1. frjohnma

      April 5, 2020 at 9:48 pm

      Hmmmmmm! Thanks for your words and encouragement. God bless you!

  • Prince Alfred

    April 6, 2020 at 7:20 am

    Thank you so much Padre. In Jesus Christ I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    1. frjohnma

      April 6, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Thanks immensely for your tremendous words and prayers

  • AndyMarie

    April 6, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Padre, crisis although difficult it comes, May God give us the grace to see his handiwork in all crisis that befalls us and reap a plentiful harvest through it.
    Thanks a lot for this reflection. It has strengthened my well-being. Gratias.

    1. frjohnma

      April 6, 2020 at 9:27 am

      Thanks dearest brother and friend.

  • Chidiebere

    April 6, 2020 at 8:58 am

    What a nice piece Fr. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us which are very timely and edifying.

    1. frjohnma

      April 6, 2020 at 9:27 am

      I am much obliged!

  • Gerard-Mary

    April 6, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    More grace to you Padre. In union with Mary we can do bravely! We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Come what may, it can only get better! All to Jesus!

    1. frjohnma

      April 6, 2020 at 5:16 pm

      All to Jesus and thanks a lot for your inspiring words and motivation

  • John Egbeji

    April 6, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    Remain lifted

  • Christine Mutembei

    April 6, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    Great thanks Fr for your very inspiring reflection on the commemoration of yesterday’s Palm Sunday at this time of the current world crisis. Indeed this has been a difficult lent journey when our places of worship are closed shattering our Christian faith somehow. In retrospect we have been able to deeply reflect on the immense suffering (Passion) of Jesus as we begin this Holy week. May the Almighty Father continue to insipire you and strengthen our resolve to accompany our Lord in spirit during this Holy week ending with the Easter Tridium, Amen

    1. frjohnma

      April 10, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for your constant love for God and His Church. We shall passover the COVID-19 experence

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