Yesterday two major events took place in T&T. The first was the administering of the first set of COVID-19 vaccine jabs into the arms of healthcare workers and the second was the start of the Lenten period.

That the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine has finally started in T&T is good news and we hope this marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic that has cost too many nationals their lives and livelihoods.

The hope brought about by the vaccine resonates as it is in keeping with the Lenten message in which Christians believe Ash Wednesday represents the beginning of the countdown to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that led to his resurrection.

For Christians, Easter is the most important time of the year because if there was no resurrection then there is no Christianity. As the book of Corinthians notes ‘if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also vain’.

In some ways the country needed both of these events to happen. The pandemic has already claimed the lives of 138 people in T&T and sickened thousands. The death of every national must still pain their friends and families as they succumbed to a virus that the world only found out about in December 2019.

It has also resulted in real pain for so many citizens who have either lost their businesses, are without a job or have had to deal with reduced wages or hours of work.

The jab presents hope that with enough people vaccinated in a timely fashion it could lead to herd immunity and the chance of us returning to some sort of normalcy.

That normalcy will give us the best chance of turning around a failing economy. One in which the Minister of Finance last week said had resulted in government borrowing to pay public officers’ salaries.

The country also needs this Lenten period and Easter. Lent is a time of reflection in which Christians practise prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving with the belief that in so doing they may yet share, even a little, albeit vicariously, in the sufferings of Jesus as he travelled that hard road to Calvary.

This society has suffered much over the last few years, particularly our young women, who have paid the ultimate price of losing their lives at the hands of heinous men who believe it is their right to brutalise our women.

We hope that the Lenten story of self-reflection, of purgation, catharsis and forgiveness may lead those who are so inclined to change their ways and learn to respect our women, children and the most vulnerable in the society.

The country collectively wept for Andrea Bharath but in so doing we were also weeping for T&T as we tried to understand how so many of our young men have become so violent without love and mercy. Perhaps this period of Lent will allow for change. We surely need it.