Bishop hails key workers as the ‘new icons of esteem’
Speaking in his homily during the latest weekly Mass for the sick, their families, care workers and NHS staff, Bishop of Middlesbrough Terence Drainey said he believed the increasing desire to foster the common good seen in recent months will last beyond the current pandemic.
Bishop Drainey welcomed the way key workers have replaced the rich and famous as “icons of esteem” in the eyes of society as the importance of their roles has become increasingly evident.“Values seem to be changing, as do icons of esteem,” he said.
“No longer the rich and famous, no longer the A-list celebs. Rather nurses, doctors, care-workers, teachers, those who feed us and supply everything we need for daily life; those who inspire us and uplift us and give us hope. The present crisis has forced people to dig deep and they have been surprised at themselves and others to find that there is a well of empathy and a desire to foster the common good in most of us.”
Bishop Drainey examined the day’s Gospel reading, commonly known as “Christ’s High-Priestly Prayer” when Jesus gathered his disciples knowing that the next day he was to be crucified.
“In the face of his imminent death he offers them and us his last will and testament,” he says. “He prays for the gift of unity. As Christians we believe that living out this unity, this love, solidarity, fellowship, this communion is the greatest witness to God’s presence in our lives and in our world.”
He said God’s love is the source of the kindness, generosity, compassion and empathy that have uplifted us over recent months, despite the hardships, grief and sickness many people have been experiencing. And he said they would continue to uplift us because it was the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper that they should do so.
“They are the fruit of the love of so many people – all those nurses, doctors, care-workers, teachers, those who feed us and supply everything we need for daily life,” he said.
“All those individuals and organisation to whom we wish to express our thanks here at Mass and outside our homes afterwards. But the question I ask myself is, I wonder, will all these be part of the ‘new normal’ or is it just a passing phase? My answer to my own question is I am certain that they will continue.”
The service took place in St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough and was streamed all over England and Wales. The special Masses for health and social care workers, each celebrated by a bishop in his cathedral, continue each Thursday throughout June and July.