Before what Jesus started became a religion and in institution, it was called “The Way.” When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he was talking about a “new way” to live, with His Father at its center and with two rules of thumb: to love and to trust.
These rules of thumb have never changed; they may be forgotten. They may have fallen into disuse. They may have been abandoned.
To love and to trust. As a spiritual person, as a child of God, as a disciple of Jesus, as a Christian, we need to understand and to deepen these two rules of thumb in these days and perhaps months ahead as we face the invisible enemy– the coronavirus.
We have gone as far as we can by science and medicine. Nothing seems to be certain except the invisible invasion will continue until it reaches its peak.
I would encourage the Christian not to spend time concluding that the coronavirus is a direct result of our unfaithfulness to God or a punishment because of our sins. That would be simplistic and is only for scapegoating others.
Yesterday, the Church read a parable about those who are self-righteous. The tax collector and the Pharisee. Instead of praying to ourselves a litany of how good and special we are, our real prayer to God, we all should adopt the prayer of the tax collector:
“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
What we face is a mystery. How it started, how to stop it, when it will end, is a mystery. A lot of things will happen before everything begins “to pop” again as the President keeps assuring.
The question is how real is our faith in God, not our despair over the coronavirus.
At the same time, as governors and commentator talk about our goodness as American, about how we can fix everything, how we are people of resilience and hope, how unity is returning to our country, there is a great deal of fear, anger, hoarding and trying to save ourselves from something that would become inevitable– like dying ourselves.
We must take it a day at a time. We need to remember that God has promised to be our companion each day. God describes Himself in the prayers and psalms as our rock, as our security, as our salvation, as our guardian, which if we believe, really, should calm our panic.
What we do not need for the coronavirus to do is to poke holes or to destroy our spiritual defense mechanisms.
Today’s Gospel could be a template for helping us to restore our personal equilibrium and to cultivate a deeper love and trust.
The blind man was blind from birth. He was not looking for Jesus. Jesus’ disciples got each other into a conversation about what caused blindness– as people believed it was either the man or his parents.
Jesus gets involved and offers another reason for what cannot be explained– He [the man] is blind so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
Now that is something to ponder. How will “the works of God” be made visible through the coronavirus? I do not know the answer, but is this not a whole different way to approach the mystery and the reality of what is happening?
The next thing that Jesus says is that “while I am in the world, I am the light of the world. And the story has Jesus creating a new person from his touch and from the clay as God created the first man and woman.
When asked to tell the story of how he came to see, the blind man says that Jesus anointed his eyes. That the same word for chrism, the anointing, the Christifying of the blind man.
While the story seems to be a story about physical healing, it is really a story of healing the soul and the spirit of the blind man, the Christifying of the person, of being filled with the spirit, the healing, the love, the new life, of the way of Jesus.
Neither the bystanders, the parents, nor the disciples of Jesus understood what was happening- that the works of God were being made visible.
Today, we need to ask Jesus to Christify us– to deepen our sense of sonder that Jesus Christ the Son of God is with us, that he wishes to fill our person and our sagging spirits with a powerful, life sustaining trust and love and hope.
At this time of being sequestered in our homes, we need to get back to the basics of our Christian life– to cultivate the person and spirit of Jesus into our lives, into our thinking, into our future– Christifying our lives.
We may not be able to escape some infection from the virus, but we can prevent the deterioration of God’s love, God’s trust and God’s hope. We have full “say-so”, to fall into darkness or to live in the light, to be soaked up by despair or to be saturated by light, to be overcome with weakness or to be touched by incredible strength.
Remember the advice God gave to Samuel as he was choosing David as the next King of Israel: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7]
That is where God wants us looking–into our hearts. And St. Paul encourages us to “live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness.” [Ephesians 5:8-11]
While the Christifying of our lives will take a lifetime to complete, each one of us needs to do something about that right now. Every little bit helps and more is better.
We shall overcome… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM39QUiAsoM
The following was sent to me by a friend, a prayer sent to her which she now prays.
A prayer, from Fr. Goyo Hidalgo of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:
Lord, help me
Be prepared, but not anxious.
Be aware, but not desperate.
Be vigilant, but not in fear.
Be Joyful, but not clueless.
Be Faithful, but not careless.
Lord, be my hope and strength