At the same time, the coronavirus is also threatening and killing thousands of lives. Indeed, starvation, anxiety and fear occupy our hearts as Jesus lamented, we are weary and burdened (Matt 11:28), and we are like sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36).
In the face of all these human sufferings, we normally cry out loud, and raise many questions, peculiarly existential or ontological questions like “Where is God now?” or “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matt 26:46)”. In fact, we believe in a God who is light and love, justice and peace. Yet every day we face and witness the reality of human suffering. It is not an easy task for any preacher to speak of the God of power and love in front of the people who are facing a series of tragic suffering. Many young people in Myanmar say, “we won’t believe in any god or any religion if justice will not triumph over injustice.”
Personally, I was looking for any inspiration to speak with God or to speak of God in these terrifying days. It is St. Dominic who “always spoke with God or of God” in verbis et exemplo. When Spain was in a situation like ours, stricken by a severe famine, Dominic, moved with pity at the sight of suffering and dying people, sold all his belongings, even his precious books and, established a center for almsgiving to provide food for the poor and the needy. Indeed, he really responded to that urgent need of his time following the teaching of the Gospel, “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor…then come, follow me” (Matt 19:21).
Pope Francis commented, “Dominic’s great call was to preach the Gospel of God’s merciful love in all its saving truth and redemptive power…he came to appreciate the inseparability of faith and charity, truth and love, integrity and compassion…His witness to the mercy of Christ and his desire to bring its healing balm to those experiencing material and spiritual poverty was to inspire the foundation of the Order and shape the life and apostolate of countless Dominicans in varied times and spaces.”
I must confess that I am so much inspired by the exemplary and charitable act of our holy father that I would like to imitate him to respond the urgent need of our modern-day, to proclaim the good news, to bring the mercy and healing touch of Christ to all the suffering people. After two months of military coup, I started organizing “Friars’ Aid Myanmar” program to help the poor and the needy of all kinds of faith in this trying time. I do believe that it is the proclamation of the Gospel verbis et exemplo, as Pope Francis understand on our holy father, Dominic. While distributing basic food to the poor of other faith, I always hear their whispers: that they praise our God; that they want to learn our faith; that they want to know Christ; that they feel a healing touch of God through our acts of love.
The inspiration from our holy father to me is a call to respond to the needs of our time. It is very important for a preacher to stand somewhere the Word of God is found. It is as Pope Francis encourages us, “one that can speak to the hearts of the men and women of our time and awaken in them a thirst for the coming of Christ’s kingdom of holiness, justice and peace. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19.