reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Friday, August 27, 2021
A beloved and holy Bishop loses battle with Covid19
A BELOVED BISHOP LOSES HIS BATTLE WITH COVID
“GOD HAS CALLED ME TO RADIATE HIS LOVE AND CARE FOR THESE BROTHERS AND SISTERS WITHOUT LOOKING AT THEIR FAITH, CASTE, COLOR, LANGUAGE.”
Some may remember the homily I preached last spring on India’s Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas, a man I described as a “living saint.” He was in the hospital, fighting for his life in a long and difficult battle with COVID.
Bishop Dr Jacob Mar Barnabas of the Gurugram diocese of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church passed away. near here on Thursday. He was 60. The Bishop was undergoing treatment for COVID-19. His condition worsened Thursday.
His enthusiasm is infectious — and so is his love for the poor.
He bears witness to it every day.
When COVID first struck India over a year ago, families naturally came to him, looking for help. Many had lost jobs, livelihoods, homes. “We don’t have any place to go,” they said, “Please help us.”
And he did.
He set up a kitchen to prepare hot meals for 1,500 people a day. He organized volunteers, priests and religious in his diocese to distribute food, hygiene kits, protective equipment, masks.
This simple man with a long grey beard and flowing saffron robes climbed into a Jeep and traveled with workers to villages. When they arrived, he got out of the Jeep and put on rubber gloves and a mask and gave out food and supplies and blessings.
A year ago, as the pandemic was just beginning to spread, he wrote an essay describing the hundreds of people who were showing up every day outside his cathedral, waiting for help: old people, widows, families with children. Day after day, the bishop met with them, talked with them, brought food to them, prayed with them.
As he put it: “God has called me to radiate his love and care for these brothers and sisters without looking at their faith, caste, color, language. They find in our cathedral a place of consolation and comfort.”
That was a year ago. I don’t think he could have imagined what was coming.
In just the last few weeks, COVID has brought India to its knees.
Families have been wiped out. The death rate is soaring. Gravediggers can’t keep up. Funeral pyres burn day and night. Government officials can’t even keep an accurate account of the dead and dying, there are so many of them. Hundreds of thousands are fighting for their lives.
One of them is Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas.
Three weeks ago, he was admitted to a hospital with a fever. It turned out to be COVID.
This morning, he is still in a hospital, on a ventilator, in critical condition.
But even that hasn’t stopped him.
One of his priests wrote, “Irrespective of his poor health, he was anxious about the poor on the street, that they are getting food daily or not. We have tried our best to fulfill his dreams and ensure the distribution of food to the poor.”