Pandemics & Possibilities: Thinking Outside the Box
It’s July 4th: For citizens of the U.S.A., a time to both reflect on and celebrate the dynamics of our nation’s history. And the liturgical Scripture selections for “ordinary time”, the Saturday of the 13th week of the year, offer us reason to pause and reflect deeply on our faith as it impacts life today.
Our reading from the prophet Amos flows from his reputation as a prophet of both doom and hope! Israel had been unfaithful to its covenant with God; they had been punished – thus Amos speaks of Israel’s restoration: rebuilding the ruins, the “basics” of life restored, a sense of being “home”… a new age, a fertile earth – flowing from an abundance of God’s love.
Matthew’s Gospel pictures the disciples of John the Baptist questioning Jesus about the demands of fasting. Jesus uses a variety of images – a wedding celebration, patching a piece of fabric, the care of new wine – to help them understand that, in Him, God is sharing a new image of God. God’s love is fresh, new, abundant; God is forgiving, generous, loving. Jesus challenges them to “think outside the box”.
Today we are invited to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life. This time of the global “pandemic”, with catastrophic illness and death: yes! Social unrest and calls for a change of attitude and practice in the U.S.: yes! Contemporary “prophets” of doom and gloom, fanning fear with selfishness and mistrust: yes. Today, today: Jesus invites us to have faith in Him, to “think outside the box” and see the bigger / global picture, to accept and share God’s generous life and love, so powerfully revealed in His suffering and death on the Cross.
In keeping with July 4th, Psalm 85 speaks of God’s gifts of peace, kindness, truth, justice, salvation – the needed message of hope and encouragement for the U.S. and our world this July 4th. Encouraged by the prophet Amos of old and one another’s example, may Jesus bring about new Life for our world!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the Vocation Director for Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.