There has never been a time in living history when the global village has seemed so small, when our common humanity has been brought into such focus.
Presented by the harsh reality of the indiscriminate spread of a heretofore unknown virus, Man has had to open his eyes to the acknowledgement that power, wealth, status, caste or class are merely artificial barriers, un-respected by the COVID-19 disease.
In the post-Cabinet media conference on Monday, March 16, the Prime Minister and his team gave the nation pause for sober reflection on the need for each one of us to take responsibility for responding positively to the crisis that we all face. They did not attempt to disguise the urgency for constant vigilance with respect to personal hygienic practices and to social distancing. They did not try to deny the pain of economic hardship facing big and small businesses or of projected shortages of food and consumer goods in the coming months.
Our country has deliberately cut itself off from the outside world made easily and dangerously accessible by incoming flights and marine vessels. We have closed our borders to all but essential services, goods and personnel in a calculated effort to stem the contagion that threatens our lives and the lives of our older citizens in particular.
Despite the warnings, there are those who insist on ‘liming’ together, to drink or to recreate. Perhaps they are desperate for the comfort of human companionship or for the illusion that they can follow their usual way of life, heedless of the consequences.
Essentially, the very sense of responsibility that the Prime Minister stressed is being ignored, to their peril and to the peril of their companions and the national community.
The Catholic Church, through the voice of our Archbishop, has directed an end to religious gatherings, including physical attendance at Holy Mass. Traumatic as this is for the faithful who long for a return to actual attendance at Mass, this necessary personal and Church sacrifice is aggravated by criticisms from some quarters that Catholics are exposing their “lack of faith”.
Faith and common sense are not, however, mutually exclusive and the Church must follow the directives of the Holy Spirit in ensuring, as far as possible, the well-being of the flock.
In the meanwhile, we have the awesome privilege of ‘attending’ Mass in our homes, in the very heart of our families, by participating in the Feast of the Lamb on Trinity TV.
Ironically, the very media that can bring us closer to the Lord and to each other, are also being used to spread fear, panic, anxiety and depression. It is easy to fall prey to the ‘testimonies’, the terrifyingly graphic accounts that circulate unendingly on all the media platforms.
This is an opportunity for us to be our brother’s keeper, to reach out with words of comfort and strength to our brothers and sisters who are fearful, who are ill, who live alone or who are susceptible to depression on a frequent basis.
What a wonderful opportunity it is for the faithful to carry out corporal works of mercy without exposing the giver or receiver to infection. Procuring food and medicine, delivering cooked meals and spending a few minutes offering companionship on the telephone or by WhatsApp may be invaluable ways of serving during this time of trial.
May our eyes be opened to the will of God and may we testify to our faith in the midst of the desolation that surrounds us.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial was written last Tuesday prior to any further decisions from government or the Archdiocese.