Sacrificium in Covid-19 Lent
Fr Zweli Ngwenya of Manzini in Eswatini is currently studying in Rome. Here he reflects on Lent in the time of the coronavirus.
The Latin word for sacrifice is Sacrificium. In Christian spirituality, sacrifice can be defined as that act that makes us to be what we truly are.
As Christians we are the Body of Christ and we can never be such without doing some sacrifice. Sacrifice is not only an act of love but it is also a sign of love.
The greatest sacrifice was on the cross when our Lord showed us how much he loved us; he gave up his life for our sake. Christians all over the world today proclaim this love. We know we are loved because Jesus showed us this love.
At this moment I find myself in the city of Rome in Italy, a country that has been hit hard by the coronavirus. At present, we live our lives in the midst of this epidemic. We know we can be infected anytime, maybe we are already infected.
How does it help one to think about all these negative things? I personally think that negativity and fear are the greatest killers of mankind. A positive attitude towards life is needed.
I am really touched every time I watch the television here in Italy these days. Seeing politicians, organisations, and Church leaders, all united for a common purpose: to save lives.
In fact, the Italian government has really demonstrated to the world that human life should come first more than anything else. Every day we receive some calls via the different media platforms to make some sacrifice.
The total lock-down of the whole country is, in fact, a call to sacrifice. Everybody is called upon to deny themselves some movements, either within the same locality or within the country, for the sake of protecting others. People have been asked to stay at home for the sake of the good of one’s neighbour.
I can testify that it is not easy and it is not comfortable, but it must be done both for one’s own good and for the good of society.
The Church has cancelled all public religious gatherings, including the public celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I think that from this decision everybody has to realise the seriousness both of the spread of the virus and of the value of human life.
Some people, said that the last time the faithful were unable to attend Holy Mass here in Rome was during the Second World War. What I want to highlight is that both the government and the Church have acted in a way that shows some sacrifice and responsibility.
As I am here, I cannot stop to think about the people back home who think about us on a daily basis.
It is true that this virus is spreading all over the world, and it has already arrived in Southern Africa.
In order to fight and conquer we need to do some sacrifice. It means that every person has to do or to stop doing something for the benefit of the other.
During this time, unity is key. It is a time that the government, organisations, and Churches hold hands and move in the same direction.
This time calls for true and responsible leadership both on the part of the government and of the Church.
Certain key programmes of the government and of the Church have to be cancelled and the resources be directed towards the poor and the suffering—Sacrificium.
This time calls us all to be truly a society and not just a collection of individuals. This is not something to be only proclaimed but is should be lived.
Our leaders in society and elsewhere should lead us in this regard. Selfishness and greed should be far away from us if we truly want to win this battle.
This worldwide situation presents to us not only fears but also opportunities.
In the midst of pain and suffering God does not stop to speak to his people. He calls each and everyone of us to stop looking at ourselves but to look at our neighbour, and ask always how we can assist a neighbour.
God is, therefore, presenting us with the opportunity of really being a society/family, spending time together in our small social units of life.
With all public liturgical celebrations having been cancelled in some parts of the world, God is calling us to rediscover the value of the family as a domestic church.