Bishop’s Message – Sunday Liturgies 3/15

March 15, 2020

To Be Read At All Of The ‘Sunday’ Liturgies: March 14 – 15

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The story of God’s chosen people, the story of ‘Exodus’, is truly our story as well. It is a journey of faith and freedom. It was also a journey that tested their faith and challenged their courage. In the first reading of the Sunday Liturgy we see that the Israelites were a people at risk and in great danger; finding themselves in a desert with no water. But the Lord certainly heard their cry, took care of their thirst and answered their question, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?”

The Lord is most certainly in our midst today. He hears our petition and quenches our thirst for the living Word of God. In the moments that frighten us and threaten us we have the Lord and each other to depend on. So we find ourselves facing one of those moments now. In addition to whatever else we have committed to do for our Lenten observance, we are all being asked to observe a penance that we would never have chosen and could not have anticipated. In response to the impact of the corona virus, Covid-19, the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, both Sunday Masses and Weekday Masses, will be suspended here in the Diocese of Fresno. This will go into effect this Monday, March the 16th, and will last through the whole of Sunday, March the 29th. This will clearly be the most difficult Lenten observance we have ever been asked to embrace. We have a moral obligation to do whatever we can to preserve the health of all people, spiritually and physically. We will be fasting for a time from the Holy Eucharist itself; a cross we did not expect to carry but one which we will bear by God’s grace and our mutual love for one another.

In the Gospel today, Jesus wanted to give the Samaritan woman ‘living water’. We have received that life-giving water in Baptism. We face the challenges of these days as sons and daughters. We have the chance and the opportunity to ennoble both our nation and our world by testifying constantly to generosity over selfishness, compassion over callousness, idealism over cynicism, and hope over fear.

In Christ,

Bishop Joseph V. Brennan, D.D.