We begin the month of August in a very different context than that of March. The beginning of the month of March in Florida brought growing concern about the spread of the coronavirus around the world and within our country. By the middle of the month that concern grew greater for us. By the end of March, we were in a completely different situation with churches, schools, stores, and the regular routine of life closed. As we begin the month of August, we do so in the context of an even greater concern about the spread of the coronavirus, especially within our state, but with more difficult personal decisions before us in regard to approaching our lives in a manner that protects ourselves and others. In reality, we are more restricted now then when we were “locked downed” in March.
Among the many challenges that face us at the present time, one that stands out is an uncertainty. We thought that by this time, life would return to normal as we knew it before the pandemic. However, it is far from that, and while certain aspects of our lives are now more open, the future presents many unknowns. We return to our churches, our schools, our work, our shopping, and many other parts of our lives in a manner that still separates us from each other and raises the question as to whether these aspects of our lives can remain open. Many things that were scheduled last year for the upcoming fall season are already canceled and, as we look to the upcoming new year, we do so with a great deal of uncertainty as well.
Uncertainty can trigger many reactions. They are fear, over protection, criticism, contention, division, anger, and other negative attitudes which destroy. On the other hand, uncertainty has the positive side of causing us to rebuild by reflecting on what really matters. When we know that what is before us can be gone in an instant, and when we are without the things we take for granted, we are naturally inclined to look for what ultimately matters. What matters and perdues are our faith, hope, and love. We are reminded that it is God, who is the Creator, the sustainer, and the meaning of life. We realize, gratefully, that no matter how cruel a pandemic may be for us, God will never be so. He holds us in His loving heart and protects us only as He can. Jesus reminds us that, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mk 13:31).
This past week, on July 22, The Pontifical Academy for Human Life, published an extremely important reflection, Humana Communitas in the Age of Pandemic. It is a meditation, on the human family which seeks to inspire a birth of life in the age of a pandemic. The reflection considers the hard lessons learned from the pandemic, as well as embracing the best measures to handle the challenges in the context of faith. As a human family, made in the image and likeness of God, we realize that we are vulnerable and must rely upon each other in our journey of faith in order to face life’s difficulties and in order to rebuild from them. The reflection encourages “a thinking that might mutate into thanking for life given, thus a passageway to life’s rebirth.” Humana Communitas in the Age of Pandemic echoes Pope Francis’ call for creativity during the pandemic.
Many of us are familiar with the maxim that, If March comes in like a lamb, it may go out like a lion but if it comes in like a lion it may go out like a lamb. In the face the coronavirus pandemic, it seems March came in like a lamb and certainly left like a lion. March is still with us in a matter we never expected. May we, as the human family, join together to face August, coming in like a lion, so it may leave like a lamb.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
July 31, 2020