Rev. Fr. Loyola Antony
St. Augustine Church, Chessore Village
Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, every Christian faithful has been praying at home, and some Churches are streaming Church Services online amid lockdown. More than 135 countries are affected; more than 17 lacks of people are confirmedby the virus infection and battling for their lives. More than One Lakh people have died so far. Everywhere we can hear the cries of deathand inconsolable relatives. Fear of death has enveloped each and every one in this world. The world is fighting at the door of death. Tombs are awaiting every new member. Not only the educational institutions, but all the places of worship have been closed. Even the often boasting nuclear-owned countriesare raising their hands in front of medicine and medical facilities to save their citizens. We are in the pathetic situation of lack of people even to bury the dead. Tombs are getting filled to the brim. So many coffins are lined up in the streets, awaiting burial. These days, there are no flowers on the coffins, no pompous funeral procession, and no one to read out the eulogy.
In this time of mourning and sorrow, we are invited by the Lord Jesus to connect our suffering to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus as we are observing the most important week of the Year (The Holy Week). While meditating on the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus may we experience the resurrection of Jesus in our life. May we listen to the cries of people who are directly or indirectly affected by the virus. May this meditation also enable us to speak within our hearts, remove our infirmities and make us saints.Let this meditation help us to move from selfishness to selflessness, from sinful life to sanctity, from darkness to light, from death to life.
Today the world is carrying the heavy laden cross of ‘COVID-19.’ Every country is going through the experience of Gethsemane at one go. The weight of this cross is very severe. More than 400 Crore people are confined within the four walls. Death pangs and inconsolable cries are echoing everywhere. There is no one to bid tearful farewell and hold the bodies of the dead before burial. People are not able to see the faces of their dear parents, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, relatives, friends and acquaintances. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Cross is meant for all of us. Like Corona, the Cross does not look at caste, creed, language, tribe and race. The Cross is not a sign of shame. It is a sign of hope. This is the seat of wisdom. Just like those who were healed in the wilderness when they looked the bronze serpent (Numbers 21:9), the Cross heals all those who fix their eyes upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). And so, we are hopeful that through the merits of the Cross, the world will definitely find out the proper vaccine to eradicate this pandemic and will rise from this predicament. This is our faith.
Every Corona patient, in fact, is carrying a Cross alone. Loneliness kills them. The shadow of death is frightening them like the shadow of evening sun. Lack of proper medicine creates panic in their hearts. Social distance and loneliness evokes a question, ‘Who am I?’ Why this life? There are no proper medical facilities. No one has courage or no one is allowed to stay at the side of those who are affected.Even the dogs have better care now. The situation is worse than the life of prison. This height of human tragedy is a great lesson for humanity. Yes, all those who look at everything as trifle, Corona virus have taught a great lesson.
Wuhan city of China is the womb of Corona. More than calling as the womb, it is more apt to call it as the tomb. From time immemorial, human beings have been plagued by various epidemics. Epidemics like Spanish fever, Asian influenza, Russian flu, SARS, MERS, Anthrax, Cholera, and Ebola have normally waged war on humanity. At every epidemic, the humanity hasn’t learned many lessons. The debauched mentality of ‘mine’ and the arrogant feeling of ‘me alone’ have influenced mankind to have a sense of superiority over the creation. Nature always rectifies itself at regular interval. This world, when it loses its equilibrium, always corrects by itself. All that we have claimed forcefully will be reclaimed by the nature. Not only wars on humanity, but the wars on nature also lead to destruction. This is the lesson we learn from history. The humanity should have learned from the first moment we fell down.
Today, Corona pandemic is teaching us a bitter lesson. Dolphins are jumping at the town square; Deers are resting on the highway; Turtles are lying eggs at the seashore peacefully; Cats are crossing the zebra line on the roads; Ducks are finding their way at the runways of aero planes. Corona has purified the Ganges and has disinfectedthe pollution. Nature has resurrected again. This earth is once again trying to reach its equilibrium. We, the crown of creation, have become the cause of destruction. However, the nature through this pandemic is reestablishing its equilibrium and teaches us that the Kingdom of God belongs to the birds of the air, grains and flowers in the field as well (Psalm 103:19).
There’s no vaccine or prescribed medicine for Corona virus yet. Medicines and treatment can help to some extent. In order to prevent this pandemic, ‘social distancing’ before and ‘staying alone’ after the infection are the only ‘vaccine’ available with us now. Through this pandemic, the biggest gain for humanity is the strengthening of relationship within the families. Today, everyone has time for the other. We are able to forget bitterness, forgive each other and able to speak with one another to one’s heart’s content. One is able to help another. At home, the husband is able to understand the daily burdens of his wife. The wife is able to channelize the strength of her husband. Children are able to reconnect their umbilical cord by loving their siblings and parents. This is the best occasion at our disposal to love one another (John 13:34). This is the prime time to forgive each other (Colossians 3:13). Corona has given us a golden opportunity to adjust our words of anger. This occasion is meant to bring spring season in our life’s journey.
Courageous people make this world go on. They are heroic people too. Even the Corona virus is kept under control to certain extent due to people of kindness and courage present in this world. The Doctors, the Nurses, the health workers, health researchers, those who have allowed themselves to be tested first by the vaccines, the police officers, the Govt. officials, the media and other volunteers are the signs of love in our time. Like the Good Samaritan (Ref. Luke 10:29-37), these noble people are serving the humanity without even bothered about what would happen to them. Even though they are aware that the virus would infect them, it might take away their dear life, they work without proper food, without proper sleep, without seeing their near and dear ones, they serve the people, and indeed they are equal to angels. Yes, they are angels from heaven. Let their servicelive long.
The death toll has crossed One Lakh worldwide. Corona virus doesn’t distinguish between rich or poor, haves or have-nots, caste or religion, language or race, and white or black. For Corona, the king and the pauper are the same. There’s darkness in the homes of the dead. There are no people to give either words of comfort or to stay near. Those who stay alone need words of encouragement. One who is struggling to breathe and live has no dear and near ones. The elderly and the differently abled need volunteers to help them. The homeless people need food for strength. The stray dogs and birds need someone to feed them. Those with suicide tendency need counselors to heal their mental ailments. Those who worry about their future need people who give them hope. We are in need of Government officials, who would work with transparency, without seeking after political gain, andunderstanding the needs of the people at this crucial time of crisis. We are in need of religious people who would pray for this world unceasingly (1Thessalonians 5:17) and comfort the people (Isaiah 40:1). We are in need of people who would give comfort to those who cry. This is the season of comfort. More than receiving comfort, the time is ripe to give comfort.
This is an ‘evening time’ for the whole world. It is a time of testing. The year 2020 cannot be forgotten in the twenty first century. Our country which sent Chandrayaan to the Moon, Mangalyaan to the Mars is not able to send the migrants to their native states safely. In Digital India, we are not able to provide safety to every citizen. We are forced to show our oneness through ringing bells, clapping hands and lighting the lamps. The Corona’s lockdown has brought to light the blatant social gap that exists between the every sphere of society. The poor who can’t get a single meal a day, holding their entire belongings in a single sack-bag, walking for 300-1000 miles to their destiny are India’s ‘Mann kiBaat’ (Inner Thoughts).The reality between ‘below poverty line’ and ‘social distance’isreally alarming. In the name of following ‘social distance,’ we can’t afford to maintain emotional distance from those in need.
The Naked Truth
Corona has not only taken away many lives, but livelihood of millions as well. Like the trees, many are uprooted from their soil of income generation. They are moved from their work place without a trace. There’s no surety if they would get their jobs back. Those who worked and studied in foreign countries are looking at their future with anxiety. Everyone has come back leaving their jobs and studies because they don’t wish to lose their life. The only common thing among them is ‘to preserve their life.’ This is the prime thought and worry of everyone now. This is the reality of our time. In the meantime, this virus has indeed taught us a great lesson of selfless life.
Yet, those who believe in Christ, death/calamity/pandemic are not the final answer. As Christ rose from the dead and emptied the tomb (John 20:7), we believe, the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19). The humanity will indeed conquer this deadly virus soon. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”(John 14:27). This too shall pass… HAPPY EASTER!