My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are facing one of the most challenging crises in our time. No disease or virus has in recent history infected so many thousands and killed so many in the world within a short span of time. In the face of this Covid-19, many of us feel helpless in the fight against it. Even governments around the world realize how inadequate they are in handling this spread of the virus or to prevent death. We still have not found the vaccine for this virus and it may take scientists many more months before they can find a way to stop the contagion.
If man cannot do it, only God can do it. As the scripture says, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26) Once again, the words of St Paul should awaken us all to the arrogance and pride of this modern generation. “To shame what is strong, God chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything. ” (1 Cor 1:27-30)
So like Azariah we need to intercede for forgiveness for the sins of humanity. He said, “For you are just in all you have done; all your works are true and your ways right, and all your judgments are true. You have executed true judgments in all you have brought upon us …because of our sins. For we have sinned and broken your law in turning away from you; in all matters we have sinned grievously.” (Dn 3: 27-29)
Hence, as your Shepherd, I am inviting you all to join me in a 24 hour of prayer, fasting and penance vigil (or 24 hours of prayer, fasting and penance), starting at 7pm on Holy Tuesday, 7 April and ending at 7pm on Holy Wednesday, 8 April. Whilst we have done all we could in implementing the precautionary measures and giving support to healthcare workers and all those affected by Covid-19, it is not enough. We need to pray and intercede together as Church for God’s mercy and divine intervention in the world. Whilst it is true that this disease has purified humanity of greed, arrogance, removed many sins of the flesh from humanity, and restored the beauty of creation, we also must ask God to be merciful to humanity who are suffering the loss of lives of their loved ones.
So please join me in praying for divine mercy and intervention to save the world not just from Covid-19 but that through this pandemic, the world may come to its senses and recognize that man does not have full control over the world regardless of how technologically and militarily advanced we are. Only God alone decides because He is the Lord of life and death. “See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god besides me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and no one can deliver from my hand.” (Dt 32:39) May God extend His mighty hand over our nation to heal and to save.
I have chosen Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday because the gospel on both of these days speak about the betrayal of Judas. Indeed, Holy Wednesday is called Spy Wednesday. We who have betrayed the Lord by our sins and suffering the judgment of God, must therefore repent and pray for conversion of humanity so that this Covid-19 pandemic can be eliminated from the face of the earth.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Most Rev. William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore
3 April 2020