Is our response to COVID a way to show love ?
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The King of the Universe
Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28; Matthew 25:31-46
Today marks the end of the Church’s liturgical calendar. Can you believe that next week starts Advent? Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord to be born. It is not a time that we plan on lavishly providing gifts for ourselves or even those we love but a time when we are called to reflect on how Christ message of universal love is or is not rooted in us. It is a time of challenge and judgement of self as to how we are living the gospel message.
Today’s readings remind us of a stark reality in our relationship with the Divine and that is judgement. At the end of our life we will be faced with the universal love of the Divine and how will we react? Will we go to the Divine with open arms and therefore live in eternal love or will we reject the Divine? You must be asking how this could be possible to reject the Divine. Who in their right frame of mind would reject the Divine?
Jesus in the Matthew’s gospel explains how easy it can be to reject the Divine now and in eternal life. The Divine is no longer found in one person Jesus Christ but rather in all people. The issue is we and others do not know or choose to experience the inner life of the Spirit. The Divine comes to you and me in those who are in need. Being in need is a state of vulnerability. Being vulnerable for most of us is not a comforting experience.
Have you ever had to ask for help or assistance? Usually our instinct is to figure whatever it is out on our own or try and work at the situation from different angles, so we do not have to ask for help. Being in need when we are poor, hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison or sick is not a happy time in our life. Right now, many are feeling like they are in need due to Covid 19 and the rise of cases which is causing us to rethink the holiday gatherings we had last year. Needing human connection and not being able to have it can cause anger and frustration. Often, we take this anger out on others, self and even the Divine.
Those who provide for those in need do not even consider what they do a big deal. Think about all the essential workers and those who care for the patients with COVID they often will say when asked it is what they do it comes second nature to them. Those who care for the poor and needy are often like the essential workers who is calling to serve others come like a second nature. Yet the strange thing is as Christians we are all called through our Baptism to be like those who serve the poor and those who are sick. We may not be trained to care for others, but we can still pray, donate and be present to those who are sick or to those who are tired of working long thankless hours for others.
The gospel today reminds us that we are all called to care for the least brother or sister in our midst. The stranger to us is the presence of the Divine who when we die will come in that form and give us one last time to react with love and therefore be embraced in love. The first reading brings this point of the Divine calling us personally to love because those who were supposed to get sidetracked and lost in their own selfishness.
The second reading as we have been saying these past few weeks reminds us that the Second Coming of Christ where all will be one is going to happen through you and I. We are the co-creators of the Cosmic Christ bringing forth the Kingdom of peace, love and joy through our lives. It is not a question of will we respond but rather we must respond to the call of the inner Spirit to love all people. If we do not respond to the call of love, then we will be separated out by our own choices each time we are called to love someone we find difficult to love.
We could say that COVID is the example we all have of love. When we wear our mask and social distance ourselves to others, we are showing Christian love. When we go out of our way to assure that those who may die of the disease if they get it are not exposed to COVID we are fulfilling our mission of love. When we do not gather in large crowds due to knowing this is how the virus is spread, we are offering the message of love. COVID while it has limited our freedom somewhat will be looked at someday from a theological reflection as a divider of those who love and those who may choose to do what they want when they want to not regarding the lives of the least brother and sister among us.
Advent begins next week. It is a time not to prepare to buy gifts but rather a time to reflect on how loving we are not only in words but actions. When we spend the next several weeks preparing to understand and experience the Divine more deeply in our lives may we have the courage to live lives of universal love. Jesus has already been born, died and has risen saving each and every person do you and I live in the reality that we are saved and called to share that love and salvation with all people whether or not we deem them to be worthy.
As we gather in small groups or on zoom for Thanksgiving may we be thankful for the love and healing each one brings to the other in, with and through Christ.