The coronavirus is not a punishment from God.
It is not a severe chastisement dealt to a world that in so many ways sins against the Almighty – by ignoring his commandments and teachings.
Actually, the punishment for sin, that we surely do receive, is self-inflicted. For it has been wisely observed that sin is its own punishment.
The God who is pure and perfect love, who out of pure love for humanity took upon himself our wounded nature and human flesh in order to teach us the way of perfect love, even to the point of crucifixion, has no desire to retaliate against us, no desire to give back hurt for hurt, no desire to punish us for what we have done to him and others. Rather, from the cross he pleads on our sinful behalf: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
God always says to us “Go and sin no more.” Never does he say, “Go to hell! Now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t completely turn out back on God and walk our own selves straight into hell, that possibility certainly exists. But the all-loving Father, I am convinced, never sends any one of his children to eternal damnation.
We were created from Love, called to live in love, and are destined for eternal love. That’s the Almighty’s plan! But we need to evermore cooperate with his loving grace.
The coronavirus pandemic should serve as a wake-up call to each of us!
On Friday, March 27, 2020, with the deadly coronavirus increasingly raging throughout the world, Pope Francis presided at a Lenten prayer service and extraordinary blessing “Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) – before an empty St. Peter’s Square. This strikingly, out of the ordinary, deeply prayerful event, highlighted in a mystical way a heavenly call to humanity to pay serious attention to what is most important in life.
Pope Francis declared that during this pandemic crisis we are being called to make a choice between “what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.”
He added, “It’s a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others” (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcUqLrbi9Cg).
The late deeply insightful theologian Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar said, “It is the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”
And likewise, Pope Francis during this special prayer service said, “The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us.”
The pope continued, “Embracing the cross means … finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.”
But to whom are we called to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity? The Gospel answer is clear: to everyone! But especially to all those who suffer from the sins of indifference, greed, lust and violence – namely, the unborn, the war-torn, the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the refugees and asylum-seekers, the physically and spiritually sick, the lonely, the dying, the enemy and our wounded common earth home.
By embracing the cross of Christ Jesus and that of our suffering brothers and sisters, we open and ready ourselves to what St. Augustine called “God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work” which is “the resurrection of Christ!”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.