Image: The community at prayer, Paulatuk
Though it is not always possible, I try hard not to think about the pandemic every day. Certainly, in the Mass it is nice to pause for a moment and to take a break from some of the bad news in the world and focus on goodness and light. But the liturgy is also a place to bring those things that bother us and to ask God to help us understand them in the light of a larger perspective. So, with cases of the virus on the rise again in Canada, and many States south of the border experiencing great distress we once again ask God to intervene and to bring good health and safety to a very difficult situation affecting so many people.
The prophet Jeremiah speaks to us in the first reading today about the sorrow that God has when he looks upon the world. He talks about violence and famine and the general disarray that occurs when times are bleak. During these times God seems hidden to the people, sometimes it seems that we have been forgotten by God.
In a nearby community there have been many deaths during this time of COVID-19. They are not directly due to the virus itself but some say that the elderly people have lost hope because during this time of social isolation it is difficult to visit and to carry on with traditional social activities. They wait in their homes or at the elder’s home for someone to stop in, but no one does. They long to pray with the community but they are discouraged from coming to church. There is no one to blame, it is just difficult to see and we all long for things to get back to normal, wondering if it ever will.
During such a prolonged situation it is easy to become discouraged and feel helpless but we cannot give up our hope. We can make a big difference through many small gestures such as picking up the phone, writing an email or even sending a card in the mail to let the vulnerable members of our communities know that we have not forgotten them, just as God has not forgotten us.
One activity that has begun in this particular community, which shows a great sign of hope, is the prayer walk which has recently begun. Each Friday the people take the big wooden cross from the church and walk through the streets as they pray the rosary and offer intentions for the needs of the people. As they do so they become a very visible sign of God’s presence and offer courage and peace to all who look upon them. It also serves as a poignant prayer to God expressing the needs of the community.
The Psalm today gives a wonderful voice to our desire. “Help us O God for the glory of your name, deliver us and forgive our sins. Let our groans come before you and preserve us so that we can give you thanks and forever praise your name”.
If you are feeling discouraged and do not know to who or where to turn, call upon God. Turn to him and voice the despair from the depths of your heart. Sometimes we just have to find a place where we can be alone and yell out our frustration or let out our tears of sadness. There is great relief that can come from venting all that sits like poison in our heart and God is ready to hear it all and to receive it without judgement or condemnation.
We wait in hope for the bright minds in the field of medicine to bring us relief from the pandemic but even though it may take some time, God is always available to us. The prophet Jeremiah says about the Lord, “We set our hope on you, for it is you who gives us what we need.”