SVG CHRISTIAN COUNCIL EASTER MESSAGE
From time to time, our human abilities, potentials and capacities are challenged by the vagaries of life – happenings which come upon us suddenly and seem to challenge our very existence. However, despite the bludgeoning we experience, we tend to rise from the ashes like the Phoenix, emerging as we do, more enlightened, more knowledgeable, and more humbled. At the same time, it is not erroneous to say that we tend, likewise, to become more humanistic – that is, celebratory of human triumph rather than acknowledging with renewed conviction belief in a God who is close to us, intervenes on our behalf, and interested in human flourishing.
Human history has been punctuated by surges of infectious, contagious and deadly diseases (Black Death: 1346-1350, Cholera: 1899-1923, Spanish Flu: 1918-1920, Asian Flu: 1957-1958, Hong Kong Flu: 1968-1969, Avian Flu: 2009, MERS, Ebola, SARS). The present COVID-19 is another of such manifestations. Is it a blessing or a curse? Is it ‘a product of nature’ or is it ‘a test tube baby’? Is this crisis or opportunity? Whatever we conclude, the virus is having its day. It is spreading rapidly and the whole world is shaking at the knees. O Christian, should we bow in fear, or prostrate in faith? While scientists around the globe work around the clock, many Christians and other persons of faith wage a battle in the ‘war rooms’ and sanctuaries of the world.
If we believe that in every cloud there is a silver lining, if all things work together for good to those who love the Lord (cf. Rom 8:28), and if in every crisis there is opportunity, then we must address the question of what in the emergence of this virus is opportunity for humanity: individually, familially and socially. Individually, a spiritual experience. The effects of the virus on a person challenges the individual to confront his/her deepest anxieties and fears: the problem of suffering, human mortality, and the afterlife. The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity, then, to ponder on one’s relationship with God or the Divine and to address the question of the ‘meaning of life’.
Familially, through LOCKDOWN (Not yet physically in SVG, but surely psychologically!), members now have more time at home, thus more time for conversation and bonding. Family members may undertake to fast from the cell phone, thus creating time for play and for enjoying the gift of one another. Time may be given to reading stories and telling stories. Bring back the ‘Anansi Stories’; some children have never heard about the trickster from West Africa. Engage with new ears the saying: ‘A family that prays together, stays together’? And integral to this is reading the Scriptures, since ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’ (St. Jerome).
Socially, this pandemic gives us the opportunity to practice the virtues of neighbourliness, human solidarity and the common good. The neighbour is the one who is close to me, and at the same time, the one from whom I must ‘physically’ and ‘socially’ distance myself. Like neighbourliness, human solidarity is extoled in this time of crisis since we are reminded that ‘we are all responsible for all’. In this global pandemic, it’s all about ‘us’, not just ‘them’. The common good is the level we must achieve. All peoples everywhere are called to collaborate with civil authorities to ensure that the virus is contained and not propagated by anyone’s non-compliance. The present offers us an opportunity to work together across the divides of space and time, politics and religion, colour and class, race and social status, financial standing and educational background for the good of all. The health and wellbeing of each person/citizen is a priority. No one must go uncared for or discriminated against. In the end, if we take hold of the opportunities offered in this time of testing, we may emerge from our bunkers (LOCKDOWN!) a new humanity bearing the scars of the virus but imbued with the hope of the resurrection.
Opportunity in Crisis
In conclusion, we are reminded that the crisis created by the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus pushed the disciples into LOCKDOWN (cf. Jn 20:19…’the doors were closed for fear of the Jews…’). Little did they know that it was this condition of LOCKDOWN which would occasion the birth of the Church through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. From this perspective of ‘opportunity in crisis’ we catch a glimmer of hope, the virtue which inspires us to press on. This hope lies in Jesus Christ and the promise of resurrection. He, the Lord, has conquered sin, death and the grave. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!