Summary: Covid-19, a pandemic of twenty-first century, is not only deadly but has awakened the individual, the family, the community, the society, and the world to a new order.
The Post COVID-19 and the Mission of the Church
Dear sisters and brothers,
Covid-19, a pandemic of twenty-first century, is not only deadly but has awakened the individual, the family, the community, the society, and the world to a new order.
People throughout the world, are anxious about the future but at the same time doing something at present in their places: working from home, dealing with joblessness, searching food for tomorrow, empty pockets without even coins, uncertainties in their lives, somewhat giving possible education to their children, more and more laying off jobs from many companies.
Will this be normal?
A million-dollar question without any certainty, without any answer.
Leaving apart all these, will there be a future for the Church?
Will all priests, pastors, religious brothers and sisters, and people of God, have any mission left other than sacraments?
I say a big ‘YES’.
I would like to enumerate a few possible missions for the future Church.
1. Social Distancing
The practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance (such as six feet or more) from other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of this contagious disease is a must, in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.
It is for the sake of safety.
In addition, it gives an awakening call to each one of us as the disciples of Jesus Christ.
What is it?
We priests, pastors and religious do practice and maintain physical distance (in the name of pagans in olden times) from other people or avoid direct contact with the people of other faith, people of critical thinking, people of other denomination, people of goodwill, people of same work and so on.
Our buildings and the walls around our land is good but at the same time, without any doubt, it keeps us away from normal life, creates suspicion in the minds of people.
Therefore, our attitudes are based on prejudices.
It further influences and ingrains in us that I have nothing to do with what happens in and around me, my community, my church, my society and my country.
The problems do not touch the core my heart. It does not bother me.
We kept social distancing soon after the lockdown was started.
We kept social distancing when thousands and millions of people were moving from their livelihood, hungry, without transportations, walking barefoot, dying on the way to their native places.
By keeping away in the name of social distancing during the pandemic has appeared the visible sign of our brokenness when all these crises started in the beginning.
It has also distanced us from the people of God, who needed us during those struggling and crisis time.
We conveniently forgot that we have a good network system: diocese to diocese, parish to parish, Church to Church, school to school, social work to social work, and have failed in reaching out to our neighbours (those who needed our helping hand).
I do not deny the fact that there were so many of them who reached out individually with their own capacities.
Nonetheless, we failed in our duty as one body of Christ to rise and show our solidarity with the poor, the marginalised and the needy as Jesus prayed that all may be one (John 17:21).
It was a God-given time for the harvest but labourers were all (including me) in closed doors like the disciples for fear of death.
Moses is one of the best examples that I would like to mention here.
He lived a life of comfort from his birth and even in his married place.
But there was something that disturbed him constantly, that which never allowed him to be in his comfortable place.
That call from God, forced him to leave all his comforts and he went to rescue the suffering people.
He succeeded after many hurdles.
We need to be prophets like Moses in this time of crisis, where there are so many acts and policies (the New Education Policy), pushed forward without any wider discussion to make more slaves and labourers.
Are we ready to step out from our social distancing…it is not medical, but social, religious, cultural, economic, and health related in and around us?
Coming days will define us what we do or what we fail to do. Oscar Romero did what a prophet of Jesus would have done.
Are we ready?
There is no doubt that we will have hurdles and hindrances to block us from prophetic intervention.
Nevertheless, we have the hope that God accompanies us, the God who has promised that I am with you and I am who I am.