Commentary on the Gospel of
As I write this reflection, America is in the midst of working out a new ‘Normal” due to the worldwide pandemic of the Coronavirus. Many people are frightened about what is happening and what it means for the future.
So, the timing of today’s readings is spot on. At first, I had trouble connecting the two readings, but then I read an exert from Monsignor John J. Michonne’s Forty Days Plus Threethat I found in Give Us This Day—Daily Prayer of Today’s Catholic:
“…Jesus represented the final covenant God made with humankind….
Leaving the pandemic aside for a moment, let’s look at the state of our world…a record number of refugees; communities in peril due to climate change; an obscene number of children still dying each day from malnourishment or preventable diseases; and countless other horrors. The human misery index is soaring and many of us are paralyzed by what Pope Francis calls the “Globalization of Indifference”. Since we didn’t cause it and certainly cannot fix it, we either do nothing or look the other way.
These are uncertain times. Many people are afraid and worried about their health, their finances, their loved ones. There is not a clear path to follow as we are in uncharted territory. We can panic or stress out about this crisis the world is experiencing or we could look at this time in our world as an opportunity.
It is ironic that our world is being hit with COVID19 during the Lenten season. Social distancing is what we are being urged by health experts. We are being told to avoid large gathering, to work from home, and almost all businesses are closed except grocery stores. Is this extraordinary time an invitation from God to review our response to the final covenant that Jesus represents? Can we take this unexpected ‘time out” to reflect on how we could model Jesus’ generosity? To love as Jesus did…to do what we can, where we can? None of us can solve the mess we are in, but surely, we all can do something to reduce the misery we see.
I have been heartened by the rookie NBA basketball player from New Orleans who stepped up to pay the wages of the arena workers who were thrown out of work when the NBA cancelled its season. His generosity spurned other NBA players and owners to do the same thing. My neighborhood has a listserv where people are asking for help and neighbors are responding.
Could this be our moment? The time to renew God’s final covenant? Can we move away from war and violence? Can we create societies where all people have the opportunity to thrive? Often, I am called a dreamer, but right now we have some unexpected opportunities and I am hoping we will use this time to come together and work to create God’s kingdom in our communities and the world. As followers of Jesus we know there is a better way. Following Jesus’ example will take lots of prayer and courage, but isn’t that what Lent is about?
One more thought, feel free to pass on this poem by a monk from England. It will give you and others hope and encouragement during this “Great Unknown” as we cope with COVID19.
"Lockdown" by Brother Richard Hendrick
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
They say that in the streets of Assisi
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
Open the windows of your soul