We are very carefully moving out of a situation of quarantine and there is now talk about returning to a “new normal.” We can more or less understand the meaning of this with regard to the rhythm of society, factories, business, etc. … but what is meaning of those words for our lives and for the Christian vision of the present and future which we are to build? The “new normal” implies hygienic care, social distancing… what should be different about the manner in which we live and act as disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ?
In this regard Pope Francis has stated: When we come out of this pandemic, we will no longer be able to do what we have been doing, how we have been doing it. No, everything will be different. All the suffering will have been pointless if we do not build together a more just, more equitable, more Christian society, not in name, but in reality, a reality that leads us to Christian behaviour. If we do not work to end the pandemic of poverty in the world, the pandemic of poverty in the country of each one of us, in the city where each of us lives, this time will have been in vain (Video Message for the Feast of Pentecost 2020).
We need a more just world, a world in which there is greater unity and solidarity … that is the great lesson that many people will remember as a result of this painful experience. This is not some new discovery. Indeed, Jesus made that reality clear in numerous ways. We need simply recall Jesus’ words to one of the experts in Jewish religious law: Now go and do the same (Luke 10:37) … in other words, do what the Good Samaritan did; care for your wounded brothers and sisters lying on the side of the road; become responsible for the wounds of your neighbor. The new element about this pandemic is that it has brought into the light the shortcomings and weaknesses of the world that we had been building and of which, in many aspects, we were proud. Now, more than ever, it is clear that we need to “globalize” solidarity, justice and the dignity of people. Perhaps the word “solidarity” is the one that has been most repeated in reflections at every level. Nations and individuals appealed to the sense of solidarity in order to halt the transmission of the virus and to be able to have at hand the necessary supplies for health care. It was incredible to witness the solidarity expressed by the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors, a team of Cuban doctors and nurses who worked in twenty-one countries to combat COVID-19. In the midst of the global health crisis. This effort by a small country has brought hope and inspiration to many people around the world.
In Mexico, invited by local government officials, two groups of this International Contingent worked in Veracruz and Mexico City. Those doctors and nurses were “infected with the solidarity virus” and the local newspapers, touched by their graciousness, wrote about their efforts. Again, solidarity appears as the fundamental teaching of this painful experience. Incidentally, there is a formal petition requesting that the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to this international group of medical professionals “in recognition of their magnificent solidarity and disinterest, saving thousands of lives by placing their own lives in danger.”
It remains to be seen how much solidarity the world powers will show to make the anti-Covid 19 vaccine available to everyone, even those living in the poorest nations.
In summary, all of us, nations and individuals, believers and non-believers, will have to become ever more aware of our surroundings and more willing to enter into solidarity with the least of our sisters and brothers, otherwise we will not have learned anything.
We are being challenged to grow on a daily basis and cultivate a new sensitivity regarding solidarity and fraternal relationships. Yes, we must become more aware of the reality that we live on the same planet and share its destiny, aware that we all share the same dignity and have to move towards unity. This new awareness of the interdependence between nations and peoples must be established and constantly strengthened … a radical and painful revelation of the epidemic.
There is a revealing story in this regard. Army Colonel Jason Denney had to spend long weeks hospitalized in Orlando, Florida, a victim of COVID-19. He could see no one but those who cared for him. But in the midst of this situation, a Guatemalan woman, Rosaura Quinteros, appeared. She was in charge of cleaning his room. Jason was in critical condition and had given up hope of recovery, but he says that Rosaura encouraged him to continue to fight and reminded him that his life was not only in the hands of the doctors but, above all, was in the hands of God. In the midst of severe pain that was suffered in solitude, he began to look forward to the arrival of this woman in order to exchange, if only for a few minutes, some words that left him encouraged to continue fighting.
In another context Rosaura would have been “invisible”, but in this case she was revealed as a necessary presence for continued life and health. The bond that developed between these two individuals brought a ray of light to the life of the military man … Once recovered, Jason said, “I don’t think she realized what she was doing for me. She was saving my life. I would love to see her again and say ‘thank you!’” For her part, Rosaura stated: “I felt very sorry for him, and I wanted to make sure he knew that he was not alone.
Solidarity, unity, humanness, brothers and sisters … these must be the words (and actions) that guide our “new normal.”
Source: “Evangelio y Vida,” comentarios a los evangelios. México.
“Gospel and life,” commentaries on the gospels, Mexico
Silviano Calderón Soltero, CM