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March 30, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters,

Peace be with you! Until a few weeks ago, most of us could not imagine that the Covid-19 pandemic would affect our lives in the dramatic way it has done so far. I do not wish to repeat what I wrote to you at the beginning of the pandemic when things became serious. Many of us are passing through moments of anxiety and distress due to the present circumstances. With this letter I just want to tell you that I can understand your pain and grief during this time of worldwide crisis. Although we, the Bishop and the priests, cannot be close to you in the usual way, we can still spiritually reach out to you. Actually, we bring not only your sufferings and pains, but also your hopes and anxieties before God every day while offering the sacrifice of the Mass in the Cathedral and the parish churches.

There are many of us who would like to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Easter, which is unfortunately not possible in the present situation. However, let us keep in mind: Whenever anyone of you calls on the Name of Jesus with the intention of sincerely repenting and asking for a change of heart, confessing to God and renouncing your sins, the Church, in the given circumstances, drawing from the treasures of the merciful Saviour, reaches out to you with assurance of forgiveness.

Whenever your conscience is burdening you, I invite you to pray in confidence the words of Psalm 103:8-14,

“The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him,
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.”

Put your full trust in Him who does not abandon us. Be assured of my prayers and closeness.

I am sure that you will miss the participation in the usual liturgical and devotional celebrations during the Holy Week and Easter. Although the celebrations will be accessible on livestream, it will never be the “live” experience within the physically present faith-community. However, at this moment there will be no other choice. First of all, do not forget that during this period of staying at home you are not forsaken by God. He is present wherever you are. Wherever possible, pray together in the family; read the Word of God together; pray the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, rediscover the value of prayer before and after the meals as a family liturgy! And above all, do not lose sight on the needs of others, who may be suffering much more than yourselves. Keep in mind Jesus, who amidst his passion was glancing at Simon Peter and touching his heart; while hanging on the Cross was also taking care of his mother and confiding her to his beloved disciple; who was forgiving his torturers before passing to the Father, and was opening an everlasting perspective to the criminal hanging at his right.

In order to remain connected to the community of faith, use the electronic means. Most of our parishes will let you know, if and when you can join the celebrations of the Holy Week and Easter through the online media. We shall do what is possible on our part to make accessible the simplified but full liturgy in our Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. You will find the details on our website ( www.avosa.org) and also here attached. There will also be made available other spiritual inputs on the websites of the Vicariate and of our parishes. Do not forget the website of the Vatican (www.vaticannews.va) where you can follow the liturgy with Pope Francis and listen to his homilies. I recommend, for all those possible, to follow the online retreat, which will be given by Fr. Darick D’souza (Bishop’s House) on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the Holy Week which will be made available on the Vicariate website.

As we prepare to enter into Holy Week during a time which is marked by suffering and paralysis of normal life brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, may it draw all of us together in solidarity with all those throughout the world who are suffering. Let us once again keep in our prayers in a special way those who are on the frontlines: the governments, the healthcare workers, and those who work in other critical life supporting systems.

The mysteries of these days assure us in a special way that God does not abandon humanity in the grip of sin which ends in death. On the other hand, they once again remind us of the Good News that God the Father has loved us and has washed away our sins through the Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, who has risen from the dead to be with us always, even in the midst of our trials and sufferings. He assures us that “no trial shall come upon us which is beyond our strength; but with every trial, He will also provide us a way out by enabling us to put up with it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Let us not hesitate to draw near to the Lord Jesus who died and rose for us. Take Our Lady as guide who did not run away but persevered at the foot of the cross. Equally, we continue to be faithful to Him in the midst of our trials. He empowers us to rise again to new life with Him on Easter singing “Christ has risen from the dead, he is no longer subject to death, alleluia!”

May Lord bless and keep all of you and your families.

Abu Dhabi, 31 st March 2020

+ Paul Hinder OFM Cap

Source: AVOSA
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Timeline PhotosAs we go through Holy Week with so many of us in isolation, let us have hope in a Lord that suffered because he loved us. ... See MoreSee Less

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Tuesday, 7th April 2020

Gospel according to St. John 13:21-33,36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples,
Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another,
at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples,
the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him
to find out whom he meant.

He leaned back against Jesus’ chest
and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel
after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it
and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him,
“What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table
realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas
kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once.
And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified,
and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you
only a little while longer.
You will look for me,
and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’
so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going,
you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”



Verse 21 "Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

The scene is the last meal Jesus is having with his disciples before his passion and death, which includes Judas Iscariot the betrayer. We may wonder why did Jesus not prevent Judas from partaking in this meal in the first place and then at table not letting all his disciples know, except John that Judas was going to betray him? Again if Judas was to do such a terrible thing after seeing all the miracles, signs and wonders performed by Jesus, why was Judas chosen to be one of his close disciples?

When we understand God's nature and get a complete revelation from scripture, we find the answers to the above two questions in 1 John 4:8 which says, 'God is love'.

Jesus was on earth for a very specific mission.
1. To make known the unconditional love of the heavenly Father for the whole world (John 3:16).
2. To pay the price for Adam's sin and restore man's relationship with a loving God broken in the garden of Eden with his own precious blood (John 15:15).

Judas was used by Satan to enable Jesus' enemies get access to him and arrest him secretly away from the admiring and adoring crowds. We must remember that the Pharisees and Chief Priests had secretly collaborated to eliminate Jesus. Satan thought that he could get at Jesus, unaware that by killing him he would loose his hold on mankind and the earth. He used these evil and self-centred leaders to do the job and lost the battle.

Yet Jesus fully aware of Judas' betrayal, did not expose or name him at the dining table. He only expressed his distress in verse 21 concerning Judas not only rejecting him but also with it God's unconditional love. As a matter of fact Jesus protected Judas by only letting John his favourite disciple know that Judas was his betrayer. Had Peter and the other disciples known, it is very unlikely that Judas would have left that room alive. Peter and the others would have surely cut him down to pieces. Jesus was not only protecting Judas but giving him a taste of God's unconditional love and an opportunity to repent even after knowing that he had made this wicked plan with Jesus' enemies.What LOVE!!!!

We know in the end how Judas not only rejected Jesus' love and grace but his guilt made him end his own life and condemn himself for all eternity.

As we reflect on the Gospel, let us unlike Judas, repent and receive God's love by believing in Jesus through his word.

God has blessed you and your family.

Thanks to Vincent Lisboa for the Reflection
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Always remember, He will make a way!

Wishing you all a blessed and safe Tuesday.
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