21 October 2009

20 October, Day 9. Update on kidnapped Fr Michael Sinnott

Fr Michael Sinnott - Day 9
20 October, 10pm Philippine time, 2pm GMT
by Fr Patrick O'Donoghue
Regional Director of the Columbans in the Philippines

Fr Michael Sinnott on outing with staff and children of Hangop Kabataan

The Gospel this morning set the 'theme' of the day: 'See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return . . .' The lamp is lit – it is in the window of our house and we are waiting and hoping for a speedy return of the ‘master’ of the house. The Liturgy, as is often the case when there is heightened awareness, spoke right into my heart this morning. And I had this heightened sense of expectancy – maybe today we would hear something. I reflected again on some of the 'little hints' we have been receiving and while trying not to exaggerate their importance, I knew that I was 'expecting' something to happen.

In was in this mindset that I went to visit Bishop Cabajar CSsR of Pagadian after breakfast. But there was nothing substantially new. And that is the way it remained throughout the day. The sense of ‘quiet’ that I spoke of yesterday was, if anything, more pronounced. There were fewer people coming and I even got some other work done! Part of this, of course, is that people are, in their own ways, trying to continue with their ‘normal’ lives. But Mick’s abduction is always there and the question is always the same: 'any news?', 'has there been contact?' The expectancy gives way to sadness on the face or in the voice when I have to admit 'no, nothing that we can verify'.

The messages continue to come in. Reading them the thought struck me that the 'darkness' of this moment is like the background stage that allows Father Mick’s goodness and authenticity to be in the spotlight. Against the backdrop of what has happened to him, the simple genuine kindness of the man comes fully into view. He is the light that is shining in this darkness and he is drawing many people to a deeper sense of the God in whom they say they trust – the God who walks with us in the darkness and assures us the dawn will come. People don’t have answers but they have their faith. And that faith urges them on to pray all the more to the God who himself knew the depths of suffering. Is it coincidence that this week we began the Book of Esther in the Office of Readings – the great story of how God upturns evil intent? Esther asked her people to fast and pray with her. Mick did not ask anyone but thousands and thousands across the world (some who never heard of him before his abduction) have chosen to pray – and fast – with and for him. We might ponder on this and its meaning.

Vatican Radio called again to know if there was any update. But even without any new developments they still asked me for an interview, which I gave. I used the opportunity to say thanks publicly to Pope Benedict for mentioning Father Mick at the Angelus last Sunday – Mission Sunday. Many people were touched by this gesture. Some others called as well, including RTE [Irelands national radio and TV service]. Other events are taking the headlines but he is not forgotten – many are waiting and hoping for good news. These reporters have a job to do, but most of them are genuinely concerned as well – that is evident to me. They, too, want to be able to rejoice.

And so it is evening and Father Mick enters into his tenth night of captivity and our thoughts are with him wherever he may be. The 'expectancy' was not fulfilled today . . . but maybe tomorrow. Hope is a wonderful gift and it is a gift. May it fill Father Mick’s heart and ours this night.

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