We recently had a COVID-19 outbreak in the seminary and I was one of those who were afflicted. When the results came out that we tested positive, the seminary promptly began to observe the necessary emergency response protocols whenever an outbreak occurs. At first, it was just I, a staff, and two other seminarians who tested positive. At that point, all community activities were suspended, including communal prayers, except for the celebration of the Eucharist – the most important part of our day. Since we were already in isolation, after the mass, the priest goes down to the isolation area to give us communion. On my first day of isolation, I was so fearful and thought that my days were already numbered. However, still being able to receive the Eucharist brought me consolation and strength.
After a few days, both of our priest formators, who serve as the pillars of our worship, also tested positive and had to be isolated as well. When I received the news, the first question that came up to me was, “how will the community celebrate mass now?” That evening, we were informed that the masses will still push through given that one priest was asymptomatic. The presider will celebrate Mass remotely and a seminarian would bring communion. I felt relieved, and thanked the Lord for this grace.
In the Gospel, Herodias took advantage of the favor that Herod Antipas promised Salome, her daughter. She used this as an opportunity to get rid of St. John the Baptist by beheading him for criticizing her marriage. Did the death of St. John stop his message from coming through? It did not. Likewise, COVID-19 may have successfully penetrated our bubble and threatened to halt our communal worship, but the Eucharist proves to be far more powerful, and nothing can hinder us from worshipping the Lord together as one community.
By: Sem. John Paul T. Toting
Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.