These are challenging times. As we face these troubled times, we turn to our faith. Our ancestors have navigated all sorts of natural disasters and epidemics throughout the ages. We are no different, and they did it with the help of God. As we consider our current situation, we sometimes find ourselves engaging in a blame game of “why God is punishing us with this horrible thing?” But Jesus offers us a different understanding.
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
Gospel of John chapter 9: 1-3 nab
So the Christian response is not to look for blame, but rather to ask “What can I learn from this?” and “How is it that ‘the works of God can be displayed’ in this situation? Let’s consider these two questions. They are questions that each of us has to struggle with for ourselves, and we each will probably come up with very different answers.
What can I learn from this? From a Christian perspective, the fundamental thing we must understand is that we are all loved by God and that we are, each one, of infinite value, “Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”(Luke 12:6-7) Being of infinite value, we are called to trust, to “be not afraid.” God is with us in this stormy time. God will give us peace and calms our souls when we open ourselves to receive it. He says to us “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-29) The yoke binds two animals together so they can help each other carry a heavy load; Jesus wants to share our load, to carry it with us. The trust we long for is realized through our recognition of God’s presence with us.
How is it that “the works of God can be displayed” in our situation? The suffering Christ is among us in powerful ways right now; how are we being called to respond to the suffering Christ? In our current situation, God is glorified through our working together to protect each other. In practical terms, for us, that means keeping a physical distance from each other, but not a spiritual distance. We can check on each other through phone calls, through the many means of social media, shouts across the street and if we get the opportunity, singing with each other down the streets, like the Italians. We can seek to extend a hand to those in need in our community by supporting the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, H.O.S.T. House, Naomi’s House, and other nonprofit agencies serving the needy.
And, finally, we can pray. This is a time for us to grow closer to God, who loves us and wants to accompany us through a difficult time; so we can go to God in prayer. We might remember in our prayers especially: medical professionals and first responders, that they are protected and guided. We pray for the sick and their family members, that they are consoled and healed. We pray for our president, governor and all government leaders that God gives them the wisdom to make good decisions. We pray for each other. May God bless you.
By Pastor Rex Hayes, Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.