Much has transpired since my last message on the feast day of St. Joseph—just 13 days ago. The number of people infected in the USA has risen significantly, and on Sunday President Trump and his medical advisors told us that the social distancing guidelines will remain in place until at least April 30th and that we should not expect the country to be "well on its way to recovery" until June 1st. Those living in many parts of the world are experiencing similar situations.
This past Friday the Holy Father delivered a message based on the gospel narrative that has the Apostles fearing for their lives in stormy seas and Jesus sleeping peacefully in the boat (Mark 4: 37-41 and Matthew 8: 24–27). In his remarks Pope Francis compared the current pandemic to the storm and made the point that all of us are in this boat together:
“In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.” -Pope Francis
The Holy Father is recognizing that our common plight has at least temporarily diminished our preoccupation with individual recognition and admiration and instead has elicited an increased level of empathy and a renewed sense of responsibility for the well-being of others.
In the midst of concerns about personal health, the health of family members, and financial security, people are looking beyond their immediate needs to the challenges confronting their communities, the nation, and the world. But the question before us now is, will this increased recognition of the other result in acts of kindness and compassion or will fear keep it at the level of sentimentality?
Remember that those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed. We may be frustrated, inconvenienced, and subject to suffering, but as St. Paul tells us:
“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" -Romans 8: 38-39
As a fellow passenger on the Bark of St. Peter, I will continue praying for your health and well-being.
God bless you,
Father Robert Spitzer