Commentary on the Gospel of

Julie Kalkowski -Creighton University's Psychology Department



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….
The mark of the new covenant was Jesus Christ and his new way of living….
God designed that a divinely chosen people be distinguished from all others
by the kind of love Jesus generously displayed.”

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

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate.

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.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,



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