One day we woke up to what was supposed to be another normal day. No one imagined that the unexpected appearance of a virus (which furthermore seemed to be quite foreign and distant) would change our way of life and the manner in which we viewed ourselves.
We never imagined that our worse enemy would become our greatest ally who would open the door to our hearts and allow us to return to that which is essential and also allow us to understand that in order to live, it is essential that we protect one another and that those persons who walk beside us are not immortal (they can be taken from us at any moment and therefore it is important to love them and care for them). Yes, we have come to understand that an embrace has a deep significance and now that we are unable to embrace one another physically, we must do so heart to heart.
We are coming to the realization that there are certain realities that are indispensable for life: the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the food that we eat, the roof under which we reside, the family that we love … we want all people to be able to rejoice in the possession of such essentials and we also want all people, rich and poor alike, to be treated with the same dignity. What appeared to be indispensable has become secondary and those realities that were about to disappear and die have recovered their meaning. Now it is urgent that we take care of our elders, of our family, of our communities, of our sisters and brothers, of our planet … by taking care of all these individuals, we are also taking care of ourselves. Today we give new meaning to the lives of doctors, nurses, paramedics, health care professionals, pharmacists, housekeeping personnel, security guards, truckers, train/bus drivers, government officials, journalists, artists, cooks, volunteers, psychologists, priests, pastors, consecrated men and women, soldiers … all those individuals who continue to risk their lives and the life of their family (outside and inside their homes) in order to save the life of others. They do so not only because of the virus but also because of hunger, insecurity, loneliness, despair and defeatism.
We have all become aware of our mission: to save lives; to provide clean and safe spaces; to plant, harvest and provide people with food so that no one dies of hunger; to reach out to people through whatever means of transportation; to provide spiritual nourishment to the people of God who are suffering; to protect, love and care for our families and communities; to be vigilant with regard to the quality of life and the future of the country; to sustain one another; to place our gifts at the service of others; to strengthen the bonds of solidarity among people … in other words, to be prophets of hope. Therefore, each meeting and prayer and sacrament and place of encounter where people share their life and faith … each one of these realities has a new meaning. The churches and shrines have closed their doors, but the church (which is each and every baptized person) is and will continue to be open to the movement of God. Each home becomes a small domestic church where God becomes present because Jesus has said: where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).
In the midst of a world where death has become very real, so many people have become concerned about preserving their life. Once again the beauty of existence, forgiveness, equality, hope, our beliefs, Jesus’ command to love one another … all of these take on new meaning.
Is was necessary to isolate and quarantine ourselves in order to learn how to love and value that which was so near and yet so very far away; in order to contemplate the setting sun or a starlit night; in order to behold the persons whom we love; in order to experience breathing fresh air; in order to experience the reality that we are alive. Our small world has disappeared and our crystal balls have been shattered. We are not immune to suffering and death. The “I” has been replaced by “We” and we experience the call to move out beyond our fear and our comfort zone.
God who is so often forgotten has begun to take his place in the midst of humankind and in turn, men and women have begun to look toward their Creator. Alone we can do nothing … we need the help of God who is our strength and security during this time of pandemic. When people pray to God and humble themselves before God, then God, as in former ages, listens to them and is compassionate toward them. Indeed, God’s mercy is always new and is everlasting. Each day God continues to work miracles and yet so often we are blind and unaware of the activity of God in our midst. Now is the time to wake up and to have recourse to Mary, our Mother, time to entrust ourselves to her loving embrace and to listen to her words: why are you in sorrow; am I not here with you, I who am your mother?
Sister Luz Elena Medina Agudelo, D.C.