We are living in uncertain times, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the lives of millions of people around the world unimaginably. These changes have taken us by surprise, now we all hope that all this will end soon, although it is impossible to predict how long it will last. In some parts of the world, the picture is grim, we do not know what would become of us without the help of doctors, nurses, and other people who are fighting the virus every day, and who have become our true heroes.
Churches are also actively participating in this fight, and from their experience responding to emergencies, there are three key roles they can play to promote preparedness and resilience. These roles are Giving Hope, Community in Prayer, Practicing Compassion.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
The three functions mentioned above are very important to support the community, priests must preach hope to the community to face fear through faith. The community should be kept in worship so that the priests can approach them through the means available. And an essential aspect is to preach compassion for the people affected, and as far as possible, try to help those affected who are the most vulnerable.
Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.
Christians must recognize that the pandemic is a sign of the times and that it brings us closer to God, today we are facing a situation where there are no predetermined recipes. Our religious traditions, enriched by the Christian generations that preceded us, give us the necessary resources to guide ourselves in this difficult crusade. This new experience has left us many things to learn and others to reaffirm, and that will serve the new generations in the future. We have understood that life is short and that we are fragile. We live planning our future thinking that we are in control of our lives, however, a virus, which we cannot even see, can change everything.
We also understood that we are all equal in the eyes of God. For the virus there are no social classes or economic conditions, we can all get sick. That is why we depend on each other; only then can we stop the pandemic. Every life is important. The Bible teaches us that we were created by God in his image and likeness, that is why life must be protected from conception to death. We reaffirm the idea that God is close to us and that He is our refuge in the storm and catastrophes we face. No matter the size of the problem, God is the only true source of security.
Psalms 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
The love of neighbor is the fundamental test of our faith. In times of crisis, our genuine love for others is the light to a world darkened by trouble. Although it seems contradictory, healthy distance is a way of showing appreciation, because it should be done not only to take care of ourselves but to take care of others.
An important lesson is to understand that complete peace and final redemption are yet to come. Christians live with the hope of better days, this does not mean that now we do not care, we do what we can in these days, and we wait for the second coming of Jesus according to the scriptures.
John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
As we mentioned before, the virus has hit many families financially and churches are aware of this. Priests use different passages from the bible to support these families and give them faith and hope in these hard days. For example, the Bible talks about the exile of the people of Israel in Babylon. Jerusalem was sacked, its temple destroyed, and the elites of the kingdom were deported to the enemy's capital. Nobles, priests, and artisans were stripped of their goods. The exiles realized that their faith was placed in false securities, they were self-centered, they remembered their vulnerability. It was then that the Israelites remembered that they were God's chosen people to announce salvation to the nations.
Just as it happened with Israel, now it is also time for us to reflect on what is happening to us, we are very used to worship in churches, so it is very difficult for us not to have face-to-face liturgies and to fast from Eucharistic communion. Our experiences are a way in which God approaches us so that we reflect, maybe we were not doing things like these should be done.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God´s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.