May 17, 2020 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051720.cfm
Life under quarantine is without a doubt, difficult. For almost a quarter of the year 2020 now, we find our world on lockdown amid pandemic realities. Definitely these are trying and uncertain times for all of us, humanity as the world we live in is now sick and under serious threat. We find ourselves now limited and deprived – reduced to mere essentials. As we adapt to the challenges of our today’s changing world, we cannot help but be somehow resigned to the possibility that “our life ahead will never be the same again”. And as we also discern with the “new” normal with its required distancing, limited mobility and isolation that would greatly affect our social relations and dealings, we also grapple with basic question: “Is and will there be Life amidst and after COVID-19 2020?”
Recently a Youtube video-clip called “The Great Realisation” by Probably Tomfoolery about Life in 2020 Pandemic world have circulated around and caught the attention of the social media. Here in a poetic bedtime story manner, and at the hindsight, the father tells the story and describes to his son the causes and effects of COVID-19 virus to humanity. While it projects and promises a much better humane and personal relationships among peoples in our tomorrow’s world, particularly the following conversion in the video is worth pondering…
Son: But why did it take a virus to bring the people back together?
Dad: Sometimes you got to get sick, my boy, before you start feeling better.
Sometimes you got to get sick, my boy, before you start feeling better.
Such a profound wisdom. Definitely in changing world during these trying times, our life will never be the same again, …. but our life will be much better and anew than before. And part and parcel of this change for the better life is the virus and sickness that we have to go through and overcome in preparation for our better life-ahead.
As St. Peter suggests, “better suffer doing good than doing evil”, the bitter herb/taste of medicine, painful injections, the life-threatening surgery, the chemotherapy treatment, dialysis or regiment of blood transfusion – the whole sickness we go through is part of the whole healing process towards our well-being, and better lifestyle. This is paradox of our life: Our present trials, sufferings, difficulties and uncertainties in life do prepare and brings out the best and better version in us. In other words, “Sometimes we got to get sick to start to get better.”
In preparing them for the suffering ahead, Jesus in our gospel challenges his disciples to keep His commandment, which is to love one another as He has loved them. Here Jesus did not only warn his disciples of the coming difficulties His persecution, suffering and death will cause them, but also prepares them the implications and responsibilities of His coming resurrection. And for Jesus, His commandment of “Loving one another” is the key essential attitude and necessary behavior for His disciples, and us now to surpass the difficulties and challenges of His cross and resurrection into our constantly changing lives.
Our love and loving, however, must be “as I have loved you”, which is thus to be done in the same way and as patterned in Jesus’ way of loving us. Unlike our way of loving, Jesus’ way of love also somehow involves patience, distancing and separation, which is usually painful for us. Though His love is personal, intimate and constant, His love is not exclusively for you but to all, not clingy – too attached “Touch me not” and even provides space and time as we experience it in His seeming absence, separation and distance, as well as in His unpredictable timing. While His love offers us the mystery of Joy, Light and Glory in life, His love also requires the painful and suffering mystery of our sorrows in loving others.
Jesus’ commandment of “Loving one another as He has loved us” would also mean the paradox of resurrection through our cross – meaning “the way to our salvation is the way of the cross”. Resurrection to new life happens then through the sorrowful mystery of our cross in loving others. In the same manner, reflected here is the life-paradox of sickness before getting better, of pain and suffering towards healing, of rising to the occasion despite difficulties and uncertainties in life.
Now as to our musings: “Is there Life during Covid-19? Will there be Life after Covid-19?”
For those who have faith and trust in Jesus and in God, and who is keeping the Lord’s commandment of “loving others as He has loved us”, along with our faith-life struggle with His cross and resurrection in life, getting better and rising to the occasion of our best and better version of our world despite difficulties and uncertainties, there is and will be life during and after COVID19 2020. However, our life will never be the same again, for without a doubt, our Life then is and will be anew and better than before.
May our love for one another now, promising though painful it can be, cooperate with the Lord’s healing ways of creating and building our better world in our life ahead. Amen.
(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)