Signs and Symptoms not of Covid-19 but of God


June 27, 2020 – Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-17; Revelation 12:1-6,10; John 19:25-27


As the Corona Virus 2019 stole the spotlight, the medical experts warned us of the signs and symptoms of the virus. Accordingly, the virus can cause a range of symptoms to a person from mild illness to pneumonia. Its most common symptoms, they said, are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Others may also show aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose or sore throat.

We are made aware of it and thus, when we begin to have these signs and symptoms then we are advised to seek medical help. It is, definitely, important to be aware of these because through this first step then, we can save lives, not just our life but also of those who are dear to us.

Moreover, looking at it from a distance, this pandemic is in itself a sign that no matter how much we have achieved in life, or no matter how much power and wealth we have accumulated, we are vulnerable. This pandemic also is a sign that tells us how competent or ignorant, sincere or corrupt, and organized or messy our leaders can be. This pandemic also is a sign given to us how individuals and communities have reached out to those in need.

With all these signs and symptoms that the Corona Virus Pandemic has brought to us, this allows me to dwell deeper into the feast we celebrate today, the Feast of Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Our first reading is very interesting because it tells us about signs. Usually, we would ask signs from God, but, in this story of Ahaz, King of Judah, it was the Lord who asked a man to ask for a sign. Ahaz’s story seemed to be very good because he did not ask a sign from God. He refused to ask a sign. However, his refusal to ask a sign from God was actually a refusal to believe in God.

What really happened? Ahaz sold himself to another god, to the King of Assyria. He sold himself because he thought that this foreign power, Assyria will only be the one who can grant immediate protection and salvation for him and his kingdom. Instead of asking wisdom from the Lord on how to lead his people, Ahaz went to the Assyrians and pleased them. The kingdom of Judah at that time was under the threat of two other kingdoms, Syria and Israel. Instead of trusting the Lord to protect and save him, he went to another god, to whom he thought was his savior.

However, history tells us that as Assyria defeated the enemies of Ahaz, he became a puppet of the King of Assyria. Not only that, the Assyrians imposed heavy taxes to the people and blasphemed the Temple of the Lord by introducing the Assyrian gods.

This is the reason why it was the Lord himself who offered Ahaz to ask for a sign so that he may believe that God will bring salvation. Yet, even though Ahaz refused, God still promised a sign of salvation. This sign is through a virgin who will conceive a son. This son will be called Emmanuel, meaning, God is with us.

This is the sign that even in the midst of our own disbelief, doubts and even refusal to believe, God remains with us. God remains our God and continues to be for us and with us. This is a sign of God’s faithfulness in us despite our unfaithfulness. This is a sign of God’s generosity despite our ingratitude. And this is what we celebrate today on this feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The Virgin who is carrying the son, the Emmanuel in her arms, is the great sign that God showed to us.

There again on the cross, as the Gospel of John tells us, the son showed us his greatest sign of love and faithfulness. The son has come to be with us and on the cross he stretched out his hand for the sake of all. The son, indeed, comes to help us perpetually.

Jesus is in fact the true perpetual help. Mary is instrumental because through her, God’s sign has been brought to us. She allowed herself to be God’s instrument of help and compassion, to be the mother of the Perpetual Help.

Even when Jesus was about to die, he assured us to have a mother, that we will not be orphaned and alone. Mary’s presence became the sign of God’s presence among us by becoming our mother.

This is the reason why we, the Church, would always seek guidance and inspiration from Mary because we feel the identity of being a child to her. The intercession of Mary as a mother, becomes a bridge of faith. It is to lead us to her risen Son, Jesus Christ.

Thus, this feast that we celebrate does not actually point to Mary. This feast points to the greatest sign, the perpetual help, and who is Jesus himself.

What is it to you and to me now, to us, who are devoted to Our Mother of Perpetual Help? How shall we express our act of thanksgiving for all the graces and blessings received?

This feast invites us that each of us and that our community becomes a sign of God’s help and love, compassion and faithfulness. This means that we let our devotion transform our life. It means that our devotion should not only remain a mere devotional practice but must also flow into our actions and words, into our decisions and choices in life.

Our devotion, then, is call to mission. It is mission because we are sent to become signs and symptoms of God’s goodness. I invite you then this time, to discern for yourself on how you could be a sign and symptom of God’s help and compassion to people around you.


Jom Baring, CSsR


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