By Deacon John De Gano
What have we learned about ourselves during this time of coronavirus?
Are we better for this time of isolation? Did we use this time profitably? Create a better mousetrap? Did we catch up on our chores or to do list? Perhaps we watched enough YouTube videos that we were able to repair that appliance in the garage? Or the window screen in the upstairs bedroom? Did we finally reconnect with our long-lost cousin or college roommate?
What will we have to show for our time?
Someday, hopefully sooner than later, we will be asked these questions (and more) about that time when we were asked to sacrifice our time, talent and treasure, to slow the spread of this disease for the good of all humanity.
Will our answers be life-affirming or result in life-taking?
Idle hands, they say, are the devil’s handiwork.
Blessings, on the other hand, are often lurking in times of trial.
Being quarantined made many of us look upon how we spend our time. Some of us found ourselves becoming reacquainted with the people we live with! And it even served as a reminder that nothing is totally within our control and that we need each other to survive and to thrive.
We learned that we can come up with creative solutions to limited budgets. That our computers can link us to family and friends isolated and alone so that we can share our hope and blessings with those who may be have always been struggling (we just never thought to ask!) to see light at the end of this “valley of shadow and death.”
Like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we are called to emulate his love, mercy and forgiveness -- to be good shepherds to those we accompany and to remind the ‘last, the least and the lost’ that God is with them, suffering with them, encouraging them to endure and sending His angels to minister to them in their times of need.
As his sheep we gather around our Master and listen to His voice. We know He has promised to lead us to greener pastures if we but follow Him.
Jesus calls us to community, sharing our giftedness, our resources and our treasures with those who are in need.
That’s what made the non-believers take notice of the early Christian communities, “See how they love one another.”
We were made for community because we share in the image and likeness of God (the Trinitarian community of Father – Son – Holy Spirit). We grow closer to God through love of God and neighbor (community) just as Jesus commanded his followers to do.
But not everyone accepts this command to love one another. The world is trying to scatter the flock. Evil men sought to kill the Good Shepherd and when that backfired (He rose on Easter morning), they turned on his disciples, the church and those down throughout the ages who try and live their lives in humble obedience by creating chaos, spreading fear and dissention (as evidenced in our modern day political posturing and false narratives) in an effort to deceive and destroy the inherent goodness that God saw in us at Creation, noting we were “very good!”
At this historic crossroad, we need to remind ourselves of God’s promise at our baptism when we were accepted into the family of God:
“You are my beloved.”
Accept God’s promise. Be loved. Reject hate and division.
And do not fear the storm clouds.
Jesus will lead us through the valley, calm the storms in our hearts and bring us safely to the other side.
If only we “love one another as I (Jesus) have loved you.”
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.