Pope Francis on COVID-19
In a prayer service which he presided lately at St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis brought us back to the story of Jesus and his disciples when they met a turbulent storm at sea.
The story was written by evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25). This has been discussed many times by priests, pastors, ministers and even laymen through the years, but every time this story is told, we can get new lessons that can make us realize something as amazing.
The storm that the world now confronts, which COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), can be likened to the storm in the story. We are like the disciples in the Gospel who were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. Today, we are caught in complete surprise. We are all filled with dread.
This incident, the Pope said, has made us realize that we are on the same boat, “all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”
We cannot afford to lose in this battle. We are on the same boat. The boat sinks, and we will sink together. The Pope has emphasized that like the disciples, we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together we can do this.
Sadly, in the Philippine setting, appeals to some of our countrymen to set aside differences and focus on what unites us seem to have fallen into deaf ears. This is the biggest obstacle, so far, this lack of unity.
The good news, however, is that an overwhelming majority still supports the President. Many realize that today is not the time for politicking, not the time to use the poor to advance their selfish interest, but the time for unity against an invisible enemy, COVID-19. Any unnecessary distraction will somehow affect our ability to combat this virus effectively.
But aside from the thought that we are on the same boat, we have to put our complete trust in God. Let us remove each and every doubt that may be lingering in our mind as to whether we can get out of this problem. At times we seem to ask God whether he cares about us. This, the Pope said, would have shaken Jesus too. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith.”
COVID-19 also helps us remember the many essential things in life that we already forget, things “which strengthens our lives and our communities.” In our constant rush for the non essentials, we have succeeded on living on the surface, our lives never devoted to something greater than ourselves. We have been rendered insensitive to the pains of our fellow human beings.
This Lent, the Pope said, God’s call is for us to be converted. “Return to me with all your heart.” (Joel 2:12).
The world has been so consumed with hate and self-centeredness. We have to come to grips with reality that without God we are nothing. “We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we flounder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them,” the Pope continued.
We have to return to God and fear no more./dbs
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