26 October 2018
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Typhoons are not strangers to us. They batter our islands every year. And yet, knowing that it is a fact of life in the CNMI does not make the situation any easier when we are struck by one. We endure the strong winds and punishing rain, as the typhoon sweeps over the Commonwealth. Then we struggle to recover and rebuild in the weeks and months that follow. It is never easy.
A few days ago, we were struck by typhoon Yutu, a category five super typhoon. We are still reeling from the experience and the devastation it caused. Experts say that it will take weeks, perhaps even months, before basic services are restored and we can return to a somewhat normal lifestyle.
As we assess the damage and the destruction wrought by the typhoon, let us turn to God our Father. Indeed, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.” (Ps 46:2) Like the blind beggar in our gospel this Sunday, let us turn to Jesus and implore him, “Lord, have pity on us!” (cf. Mk 10:47). We can be sure: the Lord will answer us. God will come to our aid.
Let us also help one another. Let us act as one community, filled with serene courage and stirred by compassion and charity. Let us be a sign of Christian unity and love. By the love we have for one another, we make manifest that we are truly disciples of Jesus (cf. Jn 13:35).
Indeed, relying on the Lord and reaching out to one another in compassion, we will get through this difficult time.
We originally planned to celebrate a “mass for unity” this Sunday to remind all the candidates in the coming elections and the rest of the faithful, that despite differences in politics, we are all one in Christ. We wanted to remind people that we must work together and support one another if we are to progress as a community.
In the wake of typhoon Yutu, we find it all the more fitting and timely to celebrate a “mass for unity” not just for our candidates but for each one of us as members of the Body of Christ. We need to come together and encourage one another to reach out to the vulnerable and the hurt among us. We need to work together and seek the common good, especially in the difficult days ahead. Indeed, the nobility and the beauty of a community are seen even in a state of emergency and calamity, in how it attends to the weak and the wounded.
Be assured of my prayers in the days to come. Let us all pray for one another and let us reflect that mutual concern in our actions.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
/s/ +Ryan P. Jimenez
Bishop of Chalan Kanoa