Carvajal: Re-evangelizing virus

Orlando P. Carvajal

THIS will be preachy but I am not apologizing. I have to write this because nothing official has been or will be written about it. I am not judging anybody, just writing and asking for all it is worth. Blame a virus for giving me the time to look at the issue through a non-traditional mental lens.

Covid-19 is re-evangelizing us to worship God in the altar of our hearts. We can’t go to Mass in Church where we have been taught to worship our God. But now the virus is reminding us God is in everyone and everything and we worship Him in man and nature with our total life. Worship is not a Sunday thing. It’s a lifetime walk with God.

Also, our re-evangelizing virus is now compelling us to accept what Vatican II has taught since the mid-sixties, that the pre-eminent Sacrament is the neighbor in need like those whose lives are most seriously challenged by its onslaught. Vatican II defined Sacrament as a person, place, or thing where we encounter God and feel His loving mercy.

We can be deprived of ritual sacraments (as we are now and as many were even before Covid-19 because they come with a price tag many cannot afford) yet continue to encounter God in a neighbor in need. Or, if we are the ones in need, in the neighbor who helps us. Covid-19 is making us realize that this is a genuine way of encountering God not only because ritual sacraments are not available but also, and especially so, because that’s where God wants us to encounter Him in the first place.

That means the nurses, doctors, and other health workers (including janitorial crew) who tend to the sick are encountering God in the people they are caring for. Vice versa, the sick are encountering God’s love and compassion in those who courageously care for them even if, in the words of Roy T. Bennett (Light in the Heart) “they are going through their own storm.”

We can also encounter God in sales girls who brave the perils of the virus in grocery stores for probably non-living wages just so we can buy food and other basic stuff.

All these people need more than prayers. Health front-liners need protective equipment and daily wage earners need funds to tide them over these difficult times. Big business (Operation Ugnayan) is donating P1.5 billion to feed the urban poor. What are big (read: wealthy) religions (Catholic, Iglesia, Quiboloy, etc) doing to help besides prayers?

“Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?” Lamentations 3:38-39. Could this be the sin we are punished and must atone for in this Lenten season, our straying away from the basics of justice and compassion for disadvantaged pilgrims in this “vale of tears?”