Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Even though information about Covid, the threat of variants, the vaccines, the restrictions, the precautions, and all the rest of it is extremely important, (knowledge is power after all) I, for one, am finding it more and more difficult to listen to.
I’ve grown weary of the “fear and trembling” that the pandemic brought about. Those are the words that conclude today’s passage from Jeremiah: “fear and trembling.” There has certainly been plenty of that over these past months.
I think most of us have tried to convince ourselves that “it’s over.” We are doing our best to return to normal. That’s what we have been hoping and praying for…NORMALCY! No more fear when going out for groceries. No more trembling when someone hugs us.
The people blessed to live in the wealthy countries of the world are getting back to normal. We Americans, for example, are able to relax a bit more. The impoverished nations, on the other hand, are still in the midst of “fear and trembling.” But then, “fear and trembling” is NORMALCY for much of humanity.
As “abnormal” as this whole experience has seemed, the extreme suffering and hardships it brought truly are a way of life for so much of the world’s population. For impoverished countries, the virus has been just one more thing with which they must contend.
Consider how the pandemic has highlighted another dimension of NORMALCY. The response to the virus has been perfectly normal in the sense that it has caused humankind, for the most part, to “self-protect.”
The epidemic has spotlighted the great divide between the rich and the poor…the privileged and the underprivileged…the powerful and influential…and the powerless and downtrodden. Rather than uniting the world in the fight against a common enemy, what we have seen is, tragically, the all too NORMAL reaction: survival of the fittest.
The virus motivated us to build walls of every sort. Walls divide us. Walls separate us. Walls make us even more self-defensive and self-centered than we already are.
In God’s plan, “normal” means quite the opposite. It is the will of our Creator that humanity strives to live together in unity and peace, regardless of our differences.
In God’s plan, the human family comes together, especially in times of crisis.
God’s view of “normal” is that we care for one another…the privileged responding quickly and generously to those in need.
Knowledge means power. And if people are to learn anything from what we are experiencing, it is that we are totally interdependent. We have a responsibility to care for one another. Those things that separate and divide us only serve to weaken us, especially in times of crisis.
If knowledge is, indeed, power, we have an opportunity to become especially powerful from the lesson to be learned from the pandemic…God calls all humanity together in Christ. It is God’s will that we reach out to those who, for whatever reason, are experiencing fear and are trembling.
God’s NORMAL is that we bring healing and peace to those in need.