The whole world is under a heavy, dark cloud this Holy Week as the Covid-19 virus spreads its invisible, insidious poison everywhere.
None of us is spared. No individual is safe. The best most of us can do to save our individual selves and everyone else is to unselfishly be at home.
Others have active missions in healthcare facilities, in essential services such as utilities, food distribution and coordinating the emergency responses. We pray for their safety.
Each of our lives, constructed around self-sufficient structures and illusions of security like the stock market, careers, and a stable government, are suddenly vulnerable in ways none of us every imagined.
Science cannot destroy the virus. Our military is not able to defeat it. No government program can fully contain it, only slow its spread.
We are left exposed, fearful and restless. We are face to face with a reality we spend our lives fleeing and denying: we are not in control.
It is a lesson in humility that makes us uncomfortable. As Americans we are taught a “can-do” attitude toward life. We want to take charge, achieve goals, make money to insure ourselves against tragedy and to guarantee comfortable lives and “secure” retirements.
The pandemic, then, can be a moment of grace, teaching us the importance of being passive, resting in God alone.
In today’s first reading, the first of the Servant Songs from the Book of Isaiah (chapters 40-55), we learn of God as the initiator in the life of a humble man disposed to only doing God’s work of justice: “I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”
And in the Gospel selection from John’s twelfth chapter, Jesus rebukes Judas Iscariot’s attempt to take control and use money to fix poverty at the expense of Mary’s humble, repentant connection with Christ in their midst.
During this dark time in the world’s history, we have an opportunity to stop our usual routine busyness, carrying on with a blinded sense of our self-sufficiency and self-importance. Now we are forced to realize we control nothing.
Submitting our lives to God in moments of deep prayer today we can come to understand only God can give the peace and serenity we seek in life. Things we think are crucial or necessary suddenly are brought into perspective. What is essential is what Mary did at the feet of Jesus at Bethany: humbling savoring the presence of the Lord.
This alone is our safety. God will provide all that we need, especially when we are most fearful.
Jim Wayne is a board member of the Passionist Solidarity Network (PSN), and author of The Unfinished Man. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.