C0rona or Karuna?
There have been some and I wish to stress the word some, who have been suggesting that the recent pandemic should be used as a clarion call to heard the sheep back to the fold by means of what I can only call a method steeped in fear. When one seeks the devil in dark places one will see him in any shape and form that he could possibly exist but what makes me truly appalled is when we see the retribution of God for our iniquities, in every tragedy that descends upon us.
The Archbishop of Bombay joined several prelates across the world in putting out a pastoral advisory coupled with an earnest call to the faithful to be united in prayer. In the Diocese of Rome and several Diocese in Italy, public liturgical services have been suspend till the 3rd of April; this under the direction of the civil government. Such a direction should be taken seriously, as the Church has done, and should only be defied when it contradicts the issue of morals.
Which brings us back to the question at hand, is the pandemic God’s doing? And should we call the faithful to repentance in the face of such a pandemic? The prophet Joel called the people to repentance when a locust plague ravaged the land. The reading which is part of the liturgy on Ash Wednesday calls the faithful to sit in sack cloth and ashes. But then again, every liturgy is a call to turn to God and every Eucharist begins with an examination of our failings in the light of a God who always loves.
Repentance is a daily call of the Church and not some seasonal fruit that is offered. While we have seasons like Lent and Advent that heighten this call, the Lord calls us to change our hearts on a daily basis. While God may choose any incident to draw us closer to him with a repentant heart, it’s a very narrow spirituality that chases dark clouds and reads his wrathful hand in tragedies such natural disasters like pandemics, earthquakes and tsunamis.
I am reminded of the parable of Dives and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. In response to Dives’ plea to Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers home to warn them of this place of torment (hell), Abraham responds by saying, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ The Lord himself reminds us that the spectacular does not motivate a repentant heart; the fact remains that some would continue to scoff in disbelief.
Shouting fire and brimstone from the rooftops in the face of this pandemic is not a solution to the sheep returning to the fold with their faces hung like they harbour a secret sorrow. God does not reveal himself only in storms, he also reveals himself in a ‘still small voice’. The call of the Lord to repent is there for the taking, every day! We don’t need a C0rona Virus; we need His Karuna (meaning mercy in Hindi) in the face of our failings.
We commend our self to prayer and the mercy of God. May he have mercy on us.
Fr Warmer D’Souza