God, where are you? This pandemic is moving “like a bullet train” from one panic station to another. We struggle to de-focus from it, we cannot think about anything else. Every new day bring more grim news. We are entombed in uncertainty, fear rules in this darkness. We are able, in an uncanny way, to postpone all our worries from our derailed life. Mainly because this virus threatens our life here and now, dwarfing the future.
We need to bring God into focus. Reflecting on the day’s Gospel message without relating it to this virus situation render it so irrelevant. Today, more than any other day in living memory, we need the Gospel to come alive immediately. We need the presence of God to walk in our midst. We need to see and feel Him in this here and now. But we must first get off the bullet train of panic to be present.
God is not distant, somewhere in this vast universe, a universe just made a lot smaller by this virus. God is not peeping through the cloud waiting for more prayers to rise to him. He has come down to be in humanity. He dwells in each one of us. We must look inside to find him.
God is not punishing the world with a plague, but we live in consequent times. This virus, like many other crises, is a consequence of our lifestyle. Its rapid spread is a result of Man not coming and working together, a consequence of the different ideologies and lifestyles we have chosen for ourselves over a long period of time. Because at the very beginning, God made us for one another but gave us the freedom of choice with a promise that He will be with us till the end of time.
We can see him in the force that is ushering our world to be united, this cry that we can only win if we fight this together as one humanity. We see him in the people in the front line, visible like light in darkness in doctors and medical care personnel giving their life for the sake of the patient. We see him in the windows that open and hear him in the songs and claps from the balconies of people appreciating these others in medical care. Be assured that when someone dies alone, He is present.
This war as one humanity involves every single one of us. Everyone is a soldier, no exceptions. We have our role to play in physical distancing, failing to do so may be consequential in somebody dying. Every little act counts to the point of a cough. Today, “to each his own” will lead to ruin. It is time to use our freedom of choice for the other. It is the only lifestyle we must adopt, and God is showing us the way.
No lockdowns will work if we do not exercise our freedom of choice to be holy. Holiness is to concede self-importance to be humble and act for the greater good of the other, giving up every inch of our personal rights. Obedience is this fruit of humility which the world is looking for. It calls for us to practice “personal lockdowns” and take responsibility, going out only when necessary. Be mindful that our small acts are carried by this virus at bullet train speed. Small acts can grow into a catastrophe.
Today, the world has finally recognized ‘you’ as an individual. The world has put a value on your personal contribution. Regardless of your status, wealth or power, ‘you’ make an equal contribution. ‘You’ are no more a unit or a statistic. You are called by name.
I began Lent in the pursuit of holiness through simple acts of self-denial. I vowed to walk instead of getting into a taxi. Today taxi lines are long, drivers wait a long time for a fare, their livelihood severely affected. To be holy now for me is to take the taxi, to offer words of consolation and give the driver a little more in fare.
God dwells in you and me. Very often he wants to use you and me to answer the prayer of the other person. The most prominent way his presence becomes visible is through people. God is found in the acts for the other person. Holiness is to be for the other person. We are all transmitters of love and mercy in everyday acts.
This is a lifestyle that God want us to use our freedom of choice to adopt. He is not an authoritarian God who says, “My way, or else” but one who knows the way out of the tomb of darkness we have found ourselves in consequent of our unholy choices. We are called to light up this darkness with our small acts to help God show the way. Follow the light.
This is where God is found, in you and me.
“A man can walk in the daytime without stumbling because he has the light of this world to see by; but if he walks at night he stumbles, because there is no light to guide him”. (From the Gospel of this the 5th Sunday of Lent)