Bishop Julius Gitom presided Good Friday Mass with St Mary’s parish priests Apr 10 at St Mary Cathedral Sandakan

By Linda Edward

April 10,2020

SANDAKAN – Good Friday is a day on which Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary. There was no celebration of Mass; it was a day of fasting, the Church bells were silent and the altars left bare.  

Bishop Julius Gitom presided over the live broadcast of Good Friday service Apr 10 in St Mary’s Cathedral parish.

He said we are in a unique circumstance where the faithful are having the Holy Week services in their own house. Despite of this, Bishop Julius said wherever we are, Jesus is still present and we can still contemplate Christ on Calvary during Good Friday.

“In spite of all the inconveniences that we are experiencing at the moment because of the coronavirus, be assured of Jesus’ presence in our service, at home, with your family and we can still contemplate the cause of Christ on Calvary.

An echo of pain and suffering of Jesus on Calvary

The Bishop of Sandakan diocese reflected on the struggles that the faithful is experiencing at this moment as an echo of the pain and suffering of Jesus on Calvary.

“All who are suffering in whatever form on this Good Friday, all who struggle to make sense of what, by any human estimate that seems to be senseless, will find it an echo of the pain and suffering of Jesus on Calvary.

“For the people in the hospital at this moment for whatever causes, either being infected by coronavirus or other causes of their sickness; for them the hospital is their Calvary,” said the bishop.

He acknowledged that many are experiencing their own Calvary at this pandemic moment where some have lost their job and have very little to depend on, some have spent all their savings to survive and do not know when the next meal is going to be on their table for the family.

Bishop Julius said, on Calvary “we see Jesus on His human side, struggling, coming to term with the reality of his predicament, being sentenced unjustly by His own people and I supposed you also have that complexity of emotion and confusion.”

Cross – symbol of suffering and source of strength

Although in reality the Cross may seem to be the symbol of suffering, the bishop said for those who believe, it is more of a symbol of loving concern and source of strength for each of us.

“The Cross can heal and comfort us in whatever predicament we are in. Let us to continue to contemplate on the Cross of Christ. It can give us strength; of course it can also stir in us the courage to go on in life in spite of the experiences and circumstances that we are in.

He called on the inflicted in all forms due to COVID-19 to be “confident in His presence, let us continue to pray that the coronavirus will be defeated and stopped that we can come back to our normal life again.”

A new prayer in time of pandemic

Sandakan Diocese also heed to the call by Vatican through its Congregation for Divine Worship, to say a new prayer titled “For the afflicted in time of pandemic” during the Solemn Intercessions.

The prayer began with: “Let us pray also for those who suffer the consequences of the current pandemic that God the Father may grant health to the sick, strength to those who care for them, comfort for families and salvation to all the victims who have died.”

After a moment of silent prayer, Bishop Julius prayed: “Almighty ever-living God, only support of our human weakness, look with compassion upon the sorrowful condition of your children who suffer because of this pandemic. Relieve the pain of the sick, give strength to those who care for them, welcome into your peace those who have died and, throughout this time of tribulation, grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love.”

Pray for frontliners

The bishop also called on the faithful to pray for the frontline workers – the doctors, nurses, professional healthcare givers and essential workers whom he calls “our heroes”; “May the Lord protect them so that they can continue to serve,” he said.

He invited the faithful to also pray for the sick, those who are being infected by the virus or other causes, those who are isolated, lonely and those who are at the point of death.