July 30, 2020
By Fr. Jack Zupez
St. Paul explains human history as passing from the alienation spoken of in the first nine chapters of Genesis to gradual reconciliation of all peoples, as children of one God. Christ came in the middle of time to give this movement of history a dynamic impetus forward. From Paul’s perspective, then, we see God’s purpose behind the crises of our times, when diverse peoples are forced to live in contact with one another, in one global economy. If we cannot be reconciled to living in peace and justice together, then we have reason to fear the confrontations that will follow.
Pope Francis has expressed the hope that we will not come out of the Covid-19 crisis to return to “business as usual”; God means for us to learn from this experience. Our sufferings can embitter us or can teach us to be compassionate toward all others who suffer.
Actions with regard to the virus on the other side of the world have some impact on us all, the care or carelessness we show, the research and sharing of remedies. The diverse peoples of the world will have made a profound step forward if we come out of the Covid-19 crisis determined to live as one people under God. We will have grown in the practice of true charity which is known by its universality. This gives us much to hope for from this pandemic, for our country and for our world.
On the local level, also, Pope Francis has shown inspiration. He reaches out in addressing difficult situations with courage and compassion, and encourages us to do so also, “to take on the smell of the sheep.” This gives meaning to what St. Paul says about “completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” and so completing Christ’s work. How many are risking their lives to ease others’ afflictions during this pandemic! They are, consciously or unconsciously, fulfilling what we are called to by our Eucharistic celebrations, to be transformed into one body in Christ, and to reconcile all of creation in him.