Archive for March, 2020|Monthly archive page

Be Simple, Be Bold

In Christianity on March 31, 2020 at 3:40 pm


Healing is what we seek today, as COVID-19 ravages societies around the world. Thinking of “societies” rather than “countries” reminds us the virus’ most dramatic impact is on people, not just economic systems. We don’t live in GDPs, or Dow Jones averages, or currency exchanges. We live as people, among people, in societies.

No Coffee, No Concerts
The barista who greeted us every morning when we stopped for coffee is gone; the coffee shop shut. Coworkers at our office, factory, or school are in lockdown at home. The server who always recognized us, and cared for us so wonderfully at our favorite restaurant, is furloughed, maybe never to return. Doctors and dentists no longer see patients. Concert halls, theaters, and most heartbreaking of all, churches are shuttered. Where is God now when we need Him most? Has He turned His back on us, on our societies?

No Christ?
“I am with you always,” He says (Matthew 28:20). Thanks be to God, our pulpits are not silent and our priests offer Mass daily. One Mass is more powerful than all the stimulus programs in the world; more powerful even — without exaggeration — than a nuclear bomb. How? Because in the Mass, our world, our societies, our own lives, are visited by God.

The Unbounded breaks into the boundaries of earth. The Timeless breaks into time. The Eternal Other makes Himself present, comes to us, accompanies us through the dark valley.

It is no coincidence then, that the Gospel reading for the Mass two Sundays before Easter recounts Christ restoring Lazarus to life, healing his sickness, and restoring him to his family. Lazarus’ return to life foreshadows Christ’s rising from the dead on Easter morning.

Is God Indifferent?
In the Lazarus account, a touching lesson lesson for the present is offered to each of us. Fr. Sergio Muñoz Fita points out that despite Lazarus’ death, and despite Christ delaying His departure to visit Lazarus and his sisters, and even despite the apparent failure of Christ’s promise Lazarus would not die, the Son of God was not indifferent. He was not uncaring. He was not distant. As St. Augustine said: “Deus interior intimo meo.” God is closer to us than our own intimacy.

These sisters knew that Jesus loved their brother. They didn’t doubt His love even in terrible circumstances. The message they send to Jesus [“the one you love is ill,” John 11:3] is a supplication, a prayer that they throw as if it were a dart to the Heart of Jesus. “Lord, you love our brother . . . and our brother needs you now.”

Love and intimacy with Christ make them bold. It is a request like that of Mary at Cana: “They have no wine” [John 2:3]. These are people who trust the Lord and know how good Jesus is.  They don’t ask, they just express their need, in the hope that Jesus will help them as soon as he knows what their situation is.

No Fear!
This is the lesson for us: simplicity, boldness. As Catholic Christians we have many aids to faith — prayers, sacramentals, summaries of our beliefs in creeds and catechisms. Yet during this time when we are deprived of our chief aid, Christ in the Eucharist, He still is near. As Paul said to the intellectuals of Athens, “He is not far from any of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28).

Pray where it hurts. Pray about what hurts. Take your cares to God, just as Lazarus’ sisters and Our Lord’s own mother did. Be simple, be bold. Be not afraid. Believe — but not in belief itself, as if to say, “Oh, if I just have faith, everything will be OK. We will come through this.”

No! “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31).