Pondicherry Archdiocese

Spirit-filled Vaccine!

One of my family friends in Germany recently sent me an SOS mail asking whether I had received the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top public health expert, long back said (The Hindu, 9 May 2021) that getting people vaccinated is the only long-term solution to the current COVID-19 crisis in India. When I went to receive the first dose there were very few people to receive it, but when I went for the second dose there was a long queue of people.

This is either because of increased awareness of the vaccine or growing fear of contamination by the virus. At this moment of continuous waves of COVID-19, threatening us at our door, the whole world is gripped by this one word: vaccination. True, the whole human race today is worried about saving their bodily health, however, it is worthwhile, at the moment, to remember the words of Jesus”What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles” (Mt 15:8).

Pharisaic Tradition and Jesus!

The Pharisees were very particular with external purification, a tradition laid down by Mishna, the Jewish law code. They picked quarrels with Jesus’ disciples. Jesus does not deny the charges of those Pharisees, but points out a much graver offence of the adversaries who through a casuistic device of their tradition render void the commandments of God and so he says: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles” (Mt 15:11). Jesus underlines that it is not food that enters the mouth (Ezek 4:14-15; Rom 14:1- 4; 1 Tim 4:3) but what comes forth (Mt 12:34-37; Eph 4:29; Jas 1:19) that renders unclean; he further illustrates with a list of vices (Mt 15:19). Indeed, he emphasizes a healthy state of mind and heart (cf. Mt 5:21-6:18) and hence the disciples of Christ, the new divine plantation (Is 60:21), should be worried about their healthy mind and heart in order to become a messianic community.

They Ate the Fruit!

Adam and Eve in the Genesis account were placed in a paradise without any environmental or health hazard. No sickness was reported. Then they eat the forbidden fruit. The fruit itself was not harmful to their body and mind; but eating the fruit exhibits their contaminated heart (Gen 3:1-6). Eve was tempted in three areas of 1 Jn 2:16: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life. Being tempted, Eve sinned (1 Tim 2:13-14, 2 Cor 11:3) but Adam sinned gravely; he did not stop Eve from sinning, thus failing to exercise headship, he committed sin by acquiescence; with full knowledge they disobeyed God, leading to spiritual death. Their mind and heart were deviated from God/Good and so their life, both bodily and mentally, became miserable: “to till the ground from which he was taken and could not regain paradise” (Gen 3:23-24).

In these times, it is deplorable in India to be unconcerned about polluting rivers or seas through which health hazards are inevitable, bringing much danger to both physical and mental health. It is a common but awful habit of some people to use social media to make character assassination. Such people are much worried about safeguarding their bodily health while “they hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth” (Amos 5:10).

Human wickedness brings natural disasters and physical pandemics, as Pope Francis at the beginning of his Encyclical Laudato Si notes: “The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life” (No. 2).

Our Lady of Good Health!

It is human selfishness that creates discriminations, even caste-discrimination, and ails peace and harmony of society. People suffer from loss of meaning in life, feelings of alienation, consequences of sins committed and so on. Their mind is sick much more than their body. Along with physical healing people need psycho-social and spiritual healing, especially during the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Our blessed Mother through her ‘fiat,’ shows us how we can maintain healthy life with connectedness both to God to our neighbour. As soon as she received her wonderful vocation to be the virgin-mother, she surrendered herself to the mysterious designs of God (fiat) while also taking the trouble of visiting Elizabeth to give a helping hand to her (Lk 1:39- 55). Deep faith in God and a total commitment to Christ’s way of life are spirit-filled vaccines for a holistic healthy life following in the footsteps of Our divine Mother whose birthday we celebrate this month.  Our Lady of Good Health, born immaculately, was assumed into heaven body and soul and thus enjoys a total healthy life; and so, she continues to bring us healing of God’s mercy to all kinds of sickness. In a world that views illness and death as the denial of the meaning of life and as annihilation, our Heavenly Mother teaches us that our suffering and death, united to the suffering and death of Christ, can lead us to a spirit-filled vaccine of caring for the sick and suffering, and thus, we become spiritual-vaccines of a healthy and harmonious society.

+ Antonysamy Peter Abir

Apostolic Administrator,

Archdiocese of Pondicherry - Cuddalore