In his recent Urbi et Orbi address, Pope Francis offered a powerful message for the entire world. It was incredible to watch him alone in St. Peter’s and raising the monstrance as he blessed the city of Rome and the entire world. All of us have been shaken out of our daily routines and struggle to find a balance between fear vs. reason, anxiety vs. calm, closeness vs. distance, the common cold vs COVID-19, prudence vs. hypervigilance, 20-second handwashing vs. 60-second handwashing, mask vs. no mask and the list goes on. It almost seems like the virus is a ‘thief in the night’ which quietly sneaks upon us.
One line from his homily made me pause and look at all of this from a different perspective. He said, “Lord…in this world, that you love more than we do…” Just think about that statement—that you love more than we do. Yes, God loves us, His creatures and His creation more than we do. And this is precisely what is revealed to us this week as we enter into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Yes, God sent His only-begotten Son to save us from sin and death so that we might be restored to God’s friendship.
In some ways, this virus can be compared to sin. It, like sin, separates us from those we love, threatens our life, spreads quickly, isolates us from others, spreads without being seen, stays on the surface for days, shows itself with various symptoms and is also asymptomatic. If only we would take the same precautions to cleanse ourselves from sin. For it is sin that separates us from God, each other and ourselves leading us isolation and often symptoms which are manifested in our lives.
Sin, like the virus, needs to be thoroughly cleansed from our hearts so that we may be whole, healthy and not a ‘threat’ to others. During these days of Holy Week let us walk with Our Lord and Savior who conquered sin and death so that we may have eternal life. Let us trust in God’s love for each of us as we know that He does, in fact, love this world more than we do.
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