COVID19 -A Test In Our Faith In God?
Before the month of August ends, I would like to share with you some musings lingering in my head which I thought to myself, perhaps it is the right thing and the right time for me to do this.
If you have listened carefully the Sunday Gospel readings for the month of August which are all authored by St. Matthew and based on the homilies by our priests in the Holy Masses, the said readings speak and remind us to deepen our trust and confidence in God. The Good News for this month is that our Lord reiterates His call to faith, that we should confide in Him, that we should believe in His words in the Scriptures and follow His teachings. He also reiterates His promise that whoever obeys and follows Him will be rewarded at the end of the day. These teachings of our Lord will guide, inspire and uplift us not only during this time of COVID-19 pandemic but also in other challenges in life. The following Sunday Gospel readings for the first to last Sunday of the month pertains to the ff: a) Miracle of Loaves and Fishes; b) Peter’s Faith on Walking on Water; c) Canaanites Woman Great Faith; d) Jesus Christ revealing who He is and making Peter as the Rock of the Church; and e) Jesus’ challenging us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.
This COVID- 19 pandemic which started in February 2020 (in most countries) and still ongoing is the major challenge, so far, posed to us during this 21st century. Five months ago, Governments all over the world decided to lockdown and impose a nationwide quarantine. Majority of the people have been isolated, they became unemployed, worried, and afraid of what may happen next. The young ones are frustrated from being stuck in their homes, not being able to enjoy the company of their friends and classmates in school. Many personal and business activities have been disrupted and many of the ordinary people, our brothers and sisters are in the red because of the shutdown of businesses, some were laid-off from work, some were asked to work part time, leaving them with no option where to source their only or additional means for daily sustenance. Even our Churches have not been spared. Some of them are still in lockdown or in limited seating capacity during Holy Masses. Donations to these institutions have plunged, pilgrimages and other funding related activities are called off. As such, our Churches are likewise feeling the financial effects of this virus, and so they need our support during this time of pandemic.
Apart from the said problems, the most that we should be afraid of is the virus itself, it is the common enemy. As WHO Chief puts it, Covid-19 virus is the enemy against humanity, a serious global health risk. Apart from its great impact on the state of every country’s economy, people’s lives are endangered extraordinarily because of this pandemic. Many people all over the world have been stricken (and is still being infected) by this virus, as there is no available vaccine and specific medicine for this as of yet. Based on Johns Hopkins University Covid Resource Center’s data, as of today (30th of August), there are about 24.82 million people infected with the virus with 838,901 deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, there are about 5.94 million confirmed positive cases with 182,364 deaths, nearly comprising a quarter of the overall fatalities. In the Philippines, the country is now in the list of the top 25 countries with highest Covid-19 cases, with about 213,131 positive cases and 3,419 deaths.
With no vaccine and medicine currently available for the virus, infections and death rate are expected to rise further. This is not good news, but we have to deal what’s happening to our world now. Isn’t it about time for us to sit back and reflect on what’s happening and ask ourselves, what do we think is the message of all this? What does God want us to convey? Is this some sort of a trial to test and grow our faith in Him? If so, how do we respond to this challenge?
And while we’re reflecting on it, about our life before this pandemic and thereafter, what have we been doing before this plague? What are those we have previously been preoccupied and comfortable with? What have we become? Have we been faithful followers of Jesus Christ? These reflections with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will provide us the spiritual nourishment we need in the silence of our hearts. Taking time to reflect is good for our soul because the more we reflect, the more we become closer to God. And the beauty of this spiritual process is that we begin to deepen our faith in the Lord. It takes a while to grow our faith in the Lord but starting to do it now, surely we will reap something in the end. After that, we realize God is always there for us. We can go near Him to seek comfort, refuge and strength even in the midst of a crisis such as this pandemic. And in the process, perhaps we can now ask ourselves: Am I now willing and ready to deny myself and give up my worldly possessions and practices, and choose instead to live simply and morally and do good deeds to others in need so as to love and please God?
Whether this pandemic is a test of our faith in God or a challenge for us to grow our faith in the Lord and to live that faith in our lives, for some of us in reality, this COVID-19 pandemic may have opened up new doors. Before this pandemic for instance, we were not able to attend daily Masses, but now, my family is now allotting time to spend moments with the Lord, attending the daily Masses online, not necessarily live but anytime of the day. Thereafter, we try our best and make it a habit to recite the Holy Rosary (and the Litany) daily with the particular intentions for each decade. Saying all these prayers provides us consolation and strength, peace of mind and most importantly it deepens our intimacy with God, definitely the best remedy for now in the absence of cure and vaccine for the virus. Have you thought about this too? Have you invited the members of your family and gather around to pray and cry out to God the universal intention to put an end of this adversity, to put an end to this pandemic? Our Lord once said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.
If we’ll only put our full trust and faith in God and ask for His intervention, we can endure challenges and our heavy burdens will be eased. Through our faith in God, we both become physically and spiritually strong. And so, we become more reflective and learn to embrace more positive outlook in what we do. And in any problems we encounter, there is always that silver lining which can be discovered in our midst, something that inspires us to find some good even in the midst of this pandemic. And we just have to have faith in God that a silver lining will come out from this challenge we’re going through. The Holy Father, Pope Francis suggested that even if problems will continue to confront each and everyone of us, we should not “allow darkness and fear to distract us and control our hearts”. Pope Francis in one of his recent tweets, also encouraged all Catholics to ask the Lord to help us live our faith with open doors and to share the same with everyone, and to take responsibility for others. Hence, this blog.
In closing, our Almighty, loving and generous God, we believe that You are here with us, that You see us, that You hear us. Teach us and guide us Lord on how to be faithful followers of Yours, particularly in times of adversity and despair. May we be able to comprehend Your will and help us to always turn to You, regardless of what may happen. We pray Lord, our Divine physician and comforter, for physical and spiritual healing of all people, especially those afflicted with the virus. We pray for those who are involved in containing the spread of this virus, the front liners, and the world leaders for God to grant them the foresight and wisdom to fight this challenge. We pray for healing of our land too and the people all over the world. We pray for the souls of those who died due to this Covid-19 virus, may God embrace and welcome them all in His Kingdom. All these, we ask through Christ or Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(note: also published in a Catholic magazine in NYC authored by the blogger herself, but an updated version.)