Take this advice from a priest who has been live-streaming the Eucharist celebration for his parishioners, on Facebook and Radio, for the last three Sundays.
If your parish priest, more especially in Nigeria and in Enugu State, in particular, asks you to attend a public mass tomorrow or any other day within this confinement period, just know that he does not love you enough. In today’s gospel, when Jesus knew that the Jews were planning to kill him, John tells us that:
“Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead, he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.” (John 11:54).
So, please, do not play hard man or woman or play holier-than-thou, for this virus is not a joke. Your faith might be strong enough to overcome the virus but think about your neighbors who have little faith, who might succumb to it. And if you ever die of coronavirus because you refused to heed the instructions, you have just indirectly committed suicide. And if you contaminate someone because you refused to obey the order, and the person dies, you have committed murder.
Choose whatever you want but be your brother’s keeper. Your parish priest is not wiser than your bishop, and even if he is, he is not more Catholic than the Pope. He is disobeying his Bishop’s order, and if you go, then you are helping him to violate the promise he made on the day of his ordination to obey and respect his Bishop and his successors. So, stay at home and make use of the means which the Church has provided for you to sanctify the day of the Lord.
And to all our brothers and sisters from other denominations, most of these rules apply to you as well. Do not tempt God by trying to prove that you have faith. I don’t doubt that but even Saint Paul said,
“All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule has been chosen by God. So, whoever opposes the authorities oppose leaders whom God has appointed. Those who do that will be judged.” (Rom 13: 1–2).
I know some of you will tell me that most of them are corrupt, just remember that I know that well, but in this case, it is for your interest.
I know we all love God, but you cannot worship him more by dying as the psalmist said,
“the dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave”. (Psalm 115:17).
So, stay home today, tomorrow and days after. Make sure you go out only when you have to really do so. And don’t forget, wash your hands frequently with detergents and be responsible.
And know that I will always remember every one of you whenever I raise the cup of our salvation or kneel to talk to God in prayers.