ASIA/JAPAN - A missionary: "In times of a pandemic, we rediscover the centrality of the word of God"

Saturday, 30 May 2020 coronavirus   pandemic   pastoral   bible   missionary animation   mission  

Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - "Isolation is not a new situation for Japanese Christians, it was like that even at the time of persecutions: even then they could not meet in churches, but they carried on faith in families. Today faced with the threat of the coronavirus and the impossibility of celebrating the Eucharist from a liturgical point of view, Christians, once again, are showing that faith can be equally lived in a profound way". This is what Father Andrea Lembo, regional Superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Japan and parish priest in the Fuchu district, in the large metropolitan area of Tokyo, reports to Agenzia Fides, talking about how the small flock of faithful in the country of the rising sun is experiencing this pandemic time. "For my part, as a parish priest - says Father Andrea - every Saturday evening I send a vocal message, which is then sent on the parish networks, on the Sunday Gospel and I receive many calls, many messages and many thank you emails. This is a blessing in such a difficult time".
What is the situation of contagions in Japan? Across the Country, since the outbreak began, 16,000 cases (out of 126 million inhabitants) and 784 deaths have been confirmed with the first patient registered on January 16. It also appears that the spread of the virus has come to a standstill: in the last two weeks, in the Japanese capital - according to a note released by the Ministry of Health - only 40 new cases of Covid-19 have been registered. Although emergency precautionary measures have already been interrupted in 42 Prefectures, the government has nonetheless prolonged the lockdown throughout the Country until May 31.
The Japanese Church has always been on the front line in addressing the social problems that afflict the population: "On the one hand, family violence, job loss and alcoholism - says the missionary – have emerged with greater drama during this period of health emergency, on the other hand commitment and solidarity have not lacked. In the parish of the Holy Family of Fuchu - he reports - we provide a service of assistance to the poor: in recent months, thanks to the help and support of many parishioners, we have worked to ensure that families in financial difficulties receive a hot meal directly in their homes".
The President of the Japanese Episcopal Conference, the Archbishop of Nagasaki, Mgr. Joseph Sanmei Takami, in the face of the reality of the coronavirus, in a document published in recent weeks, underlined that "the current situation can prove to be an opportunity to look deeply into one's own spiritual life". "Let's try to re-read the Gospels together in the family and rediscover the word of God so that this moment of distance and deprivation can become a moment in which to find one's Christian roots". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 30/5/2020)