In the midst of all the darkness we have beautiful things like this happening! Truly touching ! And notice Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church in the background! They know how to live in Barcelona - nothing can keep them down !!
~ Fr. Rob
After I finished my yardwork and sat enjoying the afternoon while gazing at the cotton-like clouds over the coastal range my thoughts turned to God and why we have this current medical problem. Although the deaths are tragic and illnesses sad, there may be a positive outcome in that perhaps this 'plague' will bring people together.
Already the two political parties are working together more to assure that the most vulnerable are being helped. Most people are remaining calm and are cooperating and are reaching out to their neighbors. Sure, there are those who will hoard products or try to profit from this, but God will judge them and that is a much deeper consequence than any short-term profit or benefit.
I hope people take this time to turn to God, not as a miracle provider, but as a source of inspiration to follow the teachings of Jesus and treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.
We are living in extraordinary times. Only a few weeks ago, we were hearing that the virus was only affecting China and some countries in the Eastern part of the world. But very quickly, we began to hear that the virus had arrived in Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, and finally here to the United States.
Then followed a scene worthy of the movies: everything began to close down, from schools to business to restaurants to movie theaters and even to the very doors of our churches.
This morning I celebrated a Sunday Mass on my own while recording it for my Spanish-speaking parishioners. Who would have thought that we would get to this point? And yet this is our new human reality.
Faith, Hope, and Love
In these turbulent times, how can we find some sense of stability and grounding? For followers of Christ, it is important to hold on to three things: faith, hope, and love.
First is faith, the firm belief that our God is with us no matter what, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, our God remains faithful to us. Second is hope, the conviction that this time of difficulty will pass, that it will not last forever, and that we will fight and persevere and come out of this challenge stronger than when we came into it. Last is love, the greatest of all virtues and the ultimate commandment which Jesus Himself gave to us.
I’m thinking now of all the families that are at home with their kids and grandkids home from school. If you were looking for an excuse to spend time with each other, THIS IS IT! Now is the best time to eat together, pray together, spend time together and cherish the relationships that you have and may have taken for granted.
The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want
In today’s famous Psalm 23 we hear, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” The psalm continues, “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”
This is the promise of God to us in these moments, that even though we walk through the valley of darkness, we fear no evil, for he is at our side. Therefore, holding fast to this promise, we do not give in to fear, we do not lose our hope, we do not falter in our confidence and faith. On the contrary, now more than ever is when we place greater trust, hope, and confidence in God.
We Are Not Gods
This pandemic has taught us another valuable lesson: that we are not gods. We are not invincible, we are not all-powerful, we are not all-knowing. This is the perennial human temptation since the time of Adam, that we would take for ourselves what belongs only to God. The fact is that in our humanity, we are weak, we are fragile. We are like the blind man in today’s Gospel, and sometimes it takes something major as a pandemic to shake us out of our blindness and come face to face with the reality of our fragility.
And Jesus in His great mercy comes to us in these moments and says, “Come to me. Do not trust in your own power or your own strength. Trust in my power. Trust in my strength. Trust in my grace and presence to carry you through these moments of your life.”
During these difficult times, may the Lord give us faith to trust in Him, hope to endure this trial, love to become who we truly are. May we remember that the Lord is our shepherd, we have no need to fear, and like the blind man in the Gospel, we turn to the Lord with all our hearts.
~ Fr Martin Vu
A doctor from Columbia Presbyterian hospital in New York City, who wished to remain anonymous, said people can open their windows and verbally show support, or they can just spend a few moments in solemn thought for those who leave the house every day to care for the sick.
I wanted to offer a message of hope in the midst of this pandemic when workers have been laid off, stores and services closed, parks and recreation off-limits, and schools closed. Yes, it’s pretty dim right now, but the message of hope is “a return to normalcy”. When we can once again get a haircut, go fishing, have the children in school. In short, return to life as it was. Maybe even better than it was because we were denied a lot of what we like about life.
Interestingly, the subject “A Return to Normalcy” was the campaign slogan of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, elected in 1920. The parallels of that age to our current situation are notable. One hundred years ago, the Spanish Flu had ravaged the population of the world killing over 50 million people and infecting about 25 percent of the world’s population. World War I with its carnage of new weaponry and chemical warfare had just ended. The return to normalcy yielded one of the great economic booms, the roaring 20’s. Unfortunately, it also brought the rise of gangsters thanks to prohibition, the anti-Semitism and world domination views of Adolf Hitler, the societal enslavement of socialism and Communism, Imperialistic conquests of neighbors by the Japanese military. Next consequences were another World War, the Holocaust, new weapons, a Cold War.
You’re probably thinking “do I really want a return to normalcy” and risk far worse situations? BUT, as a Catholic Christian, always remember that God gave us free choice – to do good or evil and to suffer the consequences of our chosen path - forever. Unlike the Spanish Flu of 1918, we have the miracles of DNA sequencing, hundreds of medical research facilities actively developing vaccines and treatments, world-wide communication thanks to the internet and media. We have a highly resilient financial and commerce system thanks to free-enterprise. In short, we have hope – a LOT of hope.
We have America’s greatest gift. What is that gift? Abundant resources? Hard working people? Great leaders? Intelligentsia? No, the greatest gift is what we fought for when we became a Republic, though sometimes we forget we have it: FREEDOM. But like God’s gift of free choice, comes great responsibility to assure freedom is used for good.
We must avoid the situations that led to World War II and the other evils of the last century. The Prophet Isaiah told the people to turn their swords into plowshares. Plowshares improve the efficiency of agriculture. But the metaphor is to find the good that peace and freedom will deliver to the world. In short, a triumph of good over evil, of the seven virtues over the seven deadly sins, of an embracing of the Beatitudes.
Medicine will deliver treatments and a vaccine for the China virus. Life will return to normal when we all go back to our daily routines and government retreats from management of our freedom. We need to use the communications of today’s technologies to reach out to all people and share the Good News of Christ.
May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those who are most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
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