survive or thrive

Mar 25, 2020

“Jesus: Emmanuel. A name which means “God-is-with-us””

“Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will”

“Here I am! I am coming to obey your will.”

“Mary, Do not be afraid.”

The reality of living in lockdown hits home for New Zealander’s today and we accept this because we are willing to do everything we can in order to stop the spread of this terrible virus.

The implications are hard. In the last couple of days I have heard from:

  • people who are anxious about how they will live in a small bubble with family for four weeks and possibly more.
  • a young woman who arrived at hospital for urgent surgery today to find the receptionist apologising she had not been notified it had been postponed for a month.
  • those who fear that the virus will reach their elderly and vulnerable family members.
  • the many people whose jobs and livelihoods are at risk.
  • those who have already lost their work being made redundant in recent days.
  • people who already struggle to feed their families and now think this will be impossible.
  • a well-respected business person who is responsible for the investments of many so they can invest in building better communities.
  • very vulnerable people who fear the loneliness of these weeks.
  • people who fear they will lose all their assets in now-vulnerable investments
  • A woman who returned to Italy last month for life-saving surgery while her young family remained in Australia.
  • those who suffer from tensions caused by those who are struggling to deal with their own virus fears.

Pope Francis commenting on today’s feast of the Annunciation says, “the Annunciation revolutionises history.”  Francis is telling us that the entry of God into the world in Jesus has turned human existence about face, for the greatest good imaginable.

I’m not sure that we really get this. I reflected on this in a post last week with the reminder to love God before all else. It’s easy to give God no more than polite lip service, some time of prayer each day, community worship on Sundays and some extra prayers if the need is great. But Christianity can only be lived as a relationship of radical orientation to Jesus Christ lived 24/7.

There are four scripture passages in the Liturgy of the Word for today’s Annunciation feast. Above I have listed one phrase from each of the four. Take a moment now to read them again and to let these words of divine comfort and consolation enter and console your mind and heart: “God is with us. Here am I Lord, I come to do your will. Do not be afraid.”

We are not playing the power of positive thinking (ref. yesterday’s post) when we ponder these scriptures. Having honestly faced the reality, we are turning to the one God to hear our prayer and answer our need.

A friend yesterday messaged me expressing concern for many people, adding that he was sure that he would survive. and his concern was for others. Then he added – I might even thrive.

His comment got me thinking. If we take my chosen words from God from today’s four readings as fact, we do not have to simply settle for getting through these difficult days of lockdown. With Christ we can thrive.

An Invitation:

  • Become aware of the miracle you need Jesus to work for you today, so that you can not only survive but thrive through this crisis.


  1. Good morning Father John, and thank you once more for your reflections which provide so much wisdom for me to guide me each day through Lent. I was thinking how appropriate that this lockdown/hibernation comes during Lent, enforced stillness to reflect on my life and what needs to change.
    I start each morning asking for the grace of knowing Christ is with me in every moment, however work and life soon push my intentions aside. I pray that like Mary, Christ will come to me and I will be able to recognise and receive Him fully in all that happens throughout my time of isolation.
    God bless us all at this time and keep us well.

  2. Thanks Father John
    I know Jesus is truly helping us.
    On Monday I presented at the dentist, having lost half a tooth. Because of a cancellation he fixed it straight away. Neither of us knew that it was almost a ‘last chance ‘ occasion.

    • Fr John thank you for your reflections, they help to calm……..
      I am a lay Marist, on this the Feast of the Annunciation this is my prayer,
      Lord, may we in our time of uncertainty, in our time of humility hear and join in the words of Our Mother Mary, “May it be done unto me”. May we submit to the challenge before us unknowing the fruits our obedience will draw forth. Help us to be the place of safety for those who call us friends, and show them the Light of Christ within us. Amen Ave Maria.

  3. Thank you, Fr John. Your early morning reflections really are food for faith. A great way to start each day looking in the right direction – towards God, the Lord and giver of life – who alone holds our lives in His hands, who knows the end from the beginning, and who promises the end of this life will be a new and glorious beginning to new life with Him for all who come to Him in faith. All praise, glory and thanksgiving be to Him!

  4. I took the kids and the dogs down the bike path along a river yesterday. There were other families out in the small groups with dogs/ bikes/ scooters. Dads had big grins on their faces, and I wondered how often these dads got to be with their children prior to this enforced lay-off. Certainly seemed to be thriving 🙂

    • Love this comment, Mike
      The reflections are beautiful from John but also from those reading them We have a new normal called being together as a family however that is made up. God is with us, Praise His Name

  5. Thank you so much for your wise words Fr John. They are so necessary during these times. Please continue after Lent is over as we need them more than ever during these times.

  6. Your messages are truely life giving Fr John. They nourish and nurture me each day and help me put everything in perspective . We have a powerful weapon in prayer and our faith in our loving saviour. God bless you.

  7. I have chosen to try to encourage others to be strong and I believe that helps me as well. I have no fear regarding catching the Virus

  8. Thanks for the invitation/challenge to thrive at this surreal time.
    Especially when today’s gospel also reminds us:
    ‘…for nothing is impossible to God.’
    Thank goodness!
    Let’s do it!

  9. I love the picture of the Annunciation – I have not seen it before. The look on Mary’s face is one of puzzlement – how can this happen? Hers was the most amazing “trust in the Lord” statement of all time! Let us learn from her in these unusual (and somewhat puzzling) times to “trust in the Lord!”

  10. JOY :
    Jesus is first
    Others 2nd
    You 3rd
    That’s would a priest said in homily. Trust in Jesus, look after others and take care of yourself.

  11. Amen thanks to Father John look forward for your teachings every day some much inspiration Amen

  12. A practical thought to turn survive into thrive which might appeal to some. Begin a Journal for jottings each day of the lockdown. It’ll be a bit like tracing our own thought map as we navigate uncharted territory with Jesus.

  13. If you get the thought,that it would be a good time to ring Joe or Betty, or bake for a neighbour, that is the Holy Spirit giving you a nudge.

  14. Is it just coincidence that this has all come to pass in the season of Lent?
    Or is God giving mankind the chance to thrive and become better than we were, rather than just hunker down and try to ride it out, then go back to what we were?

    • well thought out Terence. Thank you.

  15. Thank you for your daily inspiration Fr John. At the beginning of Lent our parish priest emptied the holy water from the entrance of the church to remind us that we were in the desert, as Jesus spent his 40 days in the desert. Little did we know that we would truly be in the desert, without being able to attend Mass or have physical contact with friends and family. But God is with us and will give us what we need, in his time.

  16. A seed grows best in broken ground

  17. Nothing is impossible with God,we are so Blessed with your reflections Father and we have two Masses live-streamed the Christchurch Diocese at 9am, Adoration Mass and rosary from the St Peter Chanel parish starting at 6.30pm. Because of the lockdown we have plenty of time for it all. Thanks be to God for His many Blessings for us


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