The New Year is about to begin and we are looking forward to leaving the Coronavirus tunnel with which we have lived in 2020. In an article in the Kyeongyang magazine a priest with a background in education and working in that field gives the readers some thoughts on what we may have lost because of the virus.
Every morning before anything else, he wants to know how many cases of the virus were discovered the previous day. The news is not good. In many parishes, the priest says Mass alone in an empty church. The world has changed; the church needs to change. We no longer live in a community, the new normal.
The writer wants the readers to understand how we are overcome with the waves of secularization— separation from religious or spiritual concerns— at a faster rate than before. We have weakened the hold that religion has on our thinking. Some of the reasons are the irrational actions of some of the religions and also the actions and words of some Christian groups and persons have made religion less able to find a place to stand in our pandemics times.
Because of the virus instead of God, material things are the idols many are following. Love and mercy and the belief in God have become what the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard mentioned in a parable.
The parable is about a fire that began before a circus performance. The stage manager sends out one of the performers who was dressed in his clown custom to warn the audience to leave immediately because of the fire. But the audience sees this as part of the show; the more he shouts and gesticulates the more they laugh and the fire engulfs the whole theater.
When the church keeps on shouting the same message, Kierkegaard says, without any change to meet the people where they are, the world will continue to accept the words as part of a familiar show and fail to see a need do something. How do people see Jesus? Does the church convey a correct image of Jesus to the world?
In these times of corona 19, we have empty churches but even before the pandemic, we had a decrease in attendance. We have lost our passion as followers of Jesus. We need to rediscover the merciful and loving Jesus and live his life.
" Let us not forget that Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details. The little detail that wine was running out at a party.
The little detail that one sheep was missing.
The little detail of noticing the widow who offered her two small coins.
The little detail of having spare oil for the lamps, should the bridegroom delay.
The little detail of asking the disciples how many loaves of bread they had.
The little detail of having a fire burning and a fish cooking as he waited for the disciples at daybreak.
A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present, sanctifying it by the Father’s plan" (Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation: Gaudete et Exsultate 144-145).
When the Catholic community is a sign of God's love to the worldwide community we have little to worry about. It's not making so many more believers for that is God's doing we make known his love, witness to the Gospel, and live his life. If we don't believe this we are bound to some other mission.
We are experiencing many life changes.The situation we are in is because of the destruction of our environment. In this coronavirus situation, we don't give up—a defeatist attitude is worst than the pandemic for we forget the graces we have and continue to receive. Happy New Year!