This Sunday’s readings (1Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41) talk about light and darkness, seeing and not seeing, appearances and reality. We know that things are not always as they seem, but sometimes we have trouble considering what is beyond our sight. Louis Pasteur had a terrible hard time convincing people that there were tiny animals that they couldn’t see that were making them sick. There was a terrible struggle to get some surgeons to wash their hands before doing surgery. Now, a virus that we cannot see, and that only a tiny percentage of people have experienced, has turned our world upside down. Three weeks ago we did not see it coming.
This helps us look at things from a different angle. How many things do we not usually see because they are so easy to take for granted? One thing is how interdependent we are. Obviously, we depend on those who work in the healthcare profession, and we would be in bad shape without them. This has been a special hardship for them, and a hazard. This is a good time to remember how important they are. When many people are staying home, people who work in grocery stores are working harder than ever, cleaning the site and restocking shelves as fast as merchandise comes in. They can’t control who comes in, how clean patrons are, and often can’t prevent customers from violating their personal space. Someone said, “if grocery stores shut down, we will have to hunt for our own food. I don’t even know where Doritos live.” Speaking of merchandise coming in, we get a reminder how important truck drivers are. Anything that doesn’t grow right here has to be shipped in, and most of that is by truck. What would our lives be like if that stopped? Then there are those who make sure that water comes into our homes and sewage comes out, those who pick up the garbage. Those who clean places we expect to be clean. What extra challenges do law enforcement personnel have now? We can also think of those who are laid off and do not get a paycheck. We can also think of those who still have to go to work and have to deal with co-workers and others who do not take precautions seriously.
This is also a time in which we can reflect on how our actions affect others. Both of my parents worked in surgery, so I was raised with strong feelings about washing my hands and sanitation in general. I have found that many people have not been taking it seriously. Someone said that if we get good at taking proper precautions, we can have fewer people die during the flu season every year (the power of stewardship of our hands).
As we are unable to gather as a community, this calls us to greater focus on prayer as individuals and as families. When all this is over, I think it would be a great thing to get groups to be learning the Liturgy of the Hours. That is a good way for the Church to pray together even when we are apart.
If we get through this with a deeper prayer life and more attentiveness to each other, good things can come of this. There will be challenges to face, the results of what is happening now. There will be a need for some economic rebuilding for those whose income was interrupted but whose bills were not. We should remember that the church must continue to pay bills, and as we value the work that the church does, we want to consider what it takes to keep it going.
We remember that God is still in charge, and whatever happens, He is here, He is at work, and He loves to bring good things out of bad situations.