These are unsettling times. A pandemic of disease and fear walk hand in hand through the streets. A nation and a world shut down, businesses and stores either closed or operating on a limited basis. Saddest of all, even the churches are forced to close their doors to avoid spreading the disease even more.
Everyone recognizes the fearful facts: social distancing, the choice of being “six feet apart or six feet under,” caring for loved ones without infecting others or becoming infected ourselves. Then, there are also the realities of life: essential versus non-essential jobs, financial hardship from the inability to go to work, no paychecks, bills that still need to be paid, fear of what tomorrow will bring and how long this pandemic will last or even if we have enough toilet paper for the duration.
Yet, there is hope and there is courage. Stories abound of people helping strangers, volunteers setting up food banks, neighbors checking on each other, people grocery shopping for the elderly and those who cannot get out themselves, individuals donating food, supplies or resources to others in need, and even those who spread hope through uplifting messages chalked on sidewalks. In the midst of disaster, most people will rise to the challenge and lift others up rather than being self-centered and uncaring.
Typically, people simply need to be asked or to be made aware of a need that is within their power to alleviate. Think back eight months to the horrific tragedy of August 3rd. There were people who rushed toward those who needed help. Of course, our first instinct is survival and safety, but even as we are running out the door, most of us will grab a person who is stumbling and support them so they can flee alongside of us. After the tragedy, El Pasoans united to support one another by donating and caring for others’ physical needs.
Compassion, kindness, empathy and charity are the stronger emotions within humanity, but we often need to be reminded of not only the presence of need but also the ways we can personally help out. Today and throughout the duration of this pandemic, it is essential that we respond with the strengths inside of us rather than give in to the weakness of panic and isolationism.
We have a unique opportunity this month when it is possible that we will be commemorating the Passion of Christ in our own homes instead of in church. Easter Sunday may dawn without the Easter lilies trumpeting the good news of salvation across the altars of our parishes. But wherever we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we must remember that the Catholic Church is not a building made of brick and mortar. WE are the Church, Jesus Christ living in each of His children, in each of us, in our neighbors, in our family members, and in every baby conceived by Almighty God within the secrecy of a mother’s womb.
During this pandemic, let us consider an important question: How will we celebrate the very essence of our faith? Easter recalls the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His victory over sin and death. Let’s welcome Him into our hearts by going forth and imitating His love for us.
Let’s respond with love to those around us who are burdened under a heavy cross. Let’s offer to ease another’s burden especially in this time of crisis, when paychecks may not be received, when jobs are unsure, when the future is scary and uncertain, and a ray of hope is difficult to find.
Or would we rather imitate those who ran away and hid from our Lord in His time of trial and crisis? Will we run away and hide from the innocent baby who is being threatened with death at the hands of the abortionist? How many times will we deny that we even know Him? Through apathy or ignorance, will we deny that we know the scientific truth as well as the Church’s teaching that human life begins at the moment of conception?
How will WE who are the Church respond to those in need? Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Guiding Star and Southwest Coalition for Life are seeing an increase in women considering abortion because those who feed on panic and insecurity offer the quick and easy solution of death to those who need hope. What will we offer to her?
Even if a woman experiencing an unexpected pregnancy wanted to hold onto a glimmer of hope, this pandemic may have robbed her of a paycheck or cast her into a situation of such uncertainty that she cannot see past the panic to find a ray of hope. A month or so ago, a woman in a crisis pregnancy may have thought she could possibly weather the storm but now her pregnancy becomes an insurmountable obstacle that she does not feel she can overcome. Do we help her or do we run away?
Let us grab hold of that inner strength that comes from our faith. Let us imitate Jesus in His love for us and spread the hope of Easter to those who also carry a heavy cross. Let’s show the world that WE are the Church who reaches out beyond the brick and mortar walls and shares Christ’s love with those in need. Let us share in Christ’s victory over death by rescuing the women and their preborn children from pain and death. We can bring Easter to the world by witnessing to the truth of life, by assisting women who will believe in hope through our help and support. Let’s bring Easter’s light where there is darkness. Who will light the way?