How are Catholics expected to respond to everything that’s been happening with regard to the outbreak, the reactions, and the safety measures? First, we should be attentive to the experts and those in positions of legitimate authority. This would mean, for example, washing our hands regularly, staying home if we’re sick, and avoiding any non-essential outings or gatherings.
Beyond this, we’re called to be beacons of hope during this time of trial. This means that when people panic, we remain calm. When people get angry, we remain patient. When people are outraged, we remain peaceful. When people are turned inwards and looking out for themselves, we look for opportunities to be kind and generous to others.
I was encouraged today when I spoke with someone I know who works at a local grocery store. He said on the news you hear about all the bad things that people are doing, fighting over things and losing their temper. He said that at his store, the workers are looking out for each other, encouraging each other, helping each other get through this difficult moment in their lives. This is what we’re called to do as well.
There are two extremes that people can fall into during these times. The first extreme is panic which we are seeing in some places now. It’s one thing to be prepared, but it’s another thing to panic. But our God is not a God of panic or fear. And when we give into fear we are listening not to the voice of God but to another voice. Our Father in heaven is always with us no matter the circumstances of our lives.
The second extreme is a kind of fideism, an idea that if I just have faith, I won’t get sick and so I don’t really have to follow the guidelines that are offered. I saw a YouTube video of a preacher saying that if you just have faith, the coronavirus can’t touch you. This is absurd. Our religion lifts up both faith and reason. And so as we place our faith and trust in our loving Father, we also use the gifts He has given to us, the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, prudence, understanding, and insight. And that means we pay attention to the advice and measures that our leaders and experts have provided for us.
God is Present Throughout All of This
Throughout all of this, we’re called to remember that regardless of the circumstances of our lives, God remains the same. He is with us in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. These are the words that couples exchange at weddings, and these are the words that God exchanges with us.