, 18 March, 2020 / 10:36 AM
Pope Francis offered Mass Wednesday for all the people who have died from the coronavirus, including medical staff who have lost their lives after helping the sick.
“Today we pray for the deceased, those who have lost their lives because of the virus,” Pope Francis said before his morning Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse March 18.
“In a special way,” he added, “I would like us to pray for healthcare workers who have died during these days. They gave their life in service to the sick.”
The pope’s daily Mass, which he offers for those affected by coronavirus, is being livestreamed every day during the emergency.
His homily was on the gift of divine law, which God gave to his people “as an attitude of closeness,” he said.
“Our God is close and asks us to be close to each other, not to move away from each other,” he urged.
Francis said during this time of crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Catholics are called to show even greater closeness to each other.
“We cannot, perhaps, get physically closer because of the fear of contagion,” he noted, “but yes, we can awaken in ourselves an attitude of closeness among us: with prayer, with help, [there are] many ways to be close.”
He said people be close to each other “because our God is close, he wanted to accompany us in life.”
“For this reason, we are not isolated people,” he emphasized.
Speaking about divine law, Francis explained that God does not hand down rules like a far-off leader or dictator.
“We know by revelation that it is a fatherly, fatherly closeness that accompanies his people by giving them the gift of the Law,” he said.
He explained that God wrote the laws on the stone with his own hands, and after giving the stone tablets to Moses, he does not go away.
God walks with his people, he said, but in the first few pages of the Bible, people respond with the opposite, by trying to “get away from God.”
“He gets close and we get away,” he stated.
Adam and Eve hide from God because they are ashamed, because they have sinned, the pope explained: “Sin leads us to hide, not wanting closeness.”
The second attitude of running away from God is demonstrated by when Cane killed his brother Abel, saying “I am not my brother's keeper.”
“We ask the Lord for the grace to be close to each other; do not hide from each other; do not wash your hands, as Cain did, of the problem of others,” the pope urged.
“Neighbors, proximity, nearness,” he said. “‘Indeed, what great nation has the gods so close to him, as the Lord our God is close to us, every time we invoke Him?’”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa