Big Brother Parochial House

Friday Thought with Fr Chris FergusonFriday Thought with Fr Chris Ferguson
Friday Thought with Fr Chris Ferguson
The social distancing and the social isolation are really beginning to kick in, so much so, I’m beginning to inhabit my own virtual world, far removed from reality, and where everyone seems to be avoiding me. In other words, I feel like a Man United supporter.

Mind you, standing here looking into a camera reminds me of the diary room in the Big Brother house. So, in a similar vein, let me begin. Week two, in Big Brother Parochial House, the theme for the last seven days could be summed up, as cabin fever. Fr Gerard, doesn’t know it yet, but the Corona Virus is the least of his worries. He has more immediate threats, namely me.

I have been shopping and cooking all week and I now feel overworked and undervalued. The famous slow cooker only arrived last Wednesday, as a consequence Fr Gerard postponed Sunday lunch, a bit like the football season. This Sunday is now D-day, allegedly I’m being treated to a slow-cooked chicken.
I do have my concerns, I’m not sure if Fr Gerard has read the instructions yet. In fact, I’m pretty confident Fr Gerard hasn’t read the instructions because the slow cooker is still in its box, wrapped in plastic. The straw which breaks the camel’s back becomes the real issue when sharing a confined space.
Or to use another analogy, it’s a death by a thousand cuts. I’m afraid Fr Gerard and myself have turned into a parody of the Odd Couple. 
The parochial house is slowly turning into a battleground; the domesticated (all things are relative, using domesticated in the loosest of terms) versus non-domesticated, the cook as opposed to a dishwasher, the top versus the bottom of the table; ultimately, Derry against Tyrone. Matters came to a head on Tuesday; I made lunch, went running and duly arrived back ready for my chicken curry. In a scene from The Three Bears, I was greeted by an empty pot. Like baby bear, I went searching for explanations. Bad enough Fr Gerard ate the full pot of curry; worse still, he remains skinny.
As we commemorate Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, we’re asked to enter into the great cosmic drama, involving light and darkness, good and evil, doubt and faith, fear and hope, ultimately death and life. After being welcomed and acclaimed by the crowds, as the King of Peace; events unfold leaving Jesus more isolated and distanced. The crowds vanish, Jesus followers slowly begin to disappear, and his disciples will betray and abandon him. Surely these events, speak to our times, we can readily relate to Jesus isolation, the absence of his followers and disciples, those he thought of as family and friends. Over the past two weeks, have we made an effort to keep in touch, have we made the effort to phone, to chat online, or spared a thought for our lonely and isolated neighbours? During these dramatic times how do we care for the vulnerable, how do we support and encourage those in the front lines providing medical treatment and care? If we look to Jesus, who in the midst of fear and death, witnesses to true life.
Throughout Holy Week, Jesus is the one who remains, true, constant and faithful. In the days and weeks ahead, can we remain true and faithful? We will experience good days and bad days, be subject to times of fear and anxiety, but also gifted occasions of joy and laugher. In all things, can we be true to the person God created us to be, remaining faithful to the calling of discipleship we received in baptism? Become genuine prophets of hope and consolation, by resisting the temptation to be cynical, avoiding the desire to pull down and tear apart.
 In Jesus’ suffering, the trials and struggles of humanity were introduced into the life of God. Today, we’re asked not to abandon, isolate or socially distance, the God who knocks on the door of our hearts. Jesus is calling, asking us to unite our crosses with him, allowing our prayer to become a part of his prayer. 
The drama of Jesus, life, death and resurrection, continues in the lives of his followers; will allow death to have the final say, or will it be the hope of new life.

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