The cross of COVID-19

HAPPY Easter!

This year’s celebration of Holy Week and Easter is unprecedented for all of us Christians, for we could not gather as a community to hold masses and services in our churches. It’s because of coronavirus pandemic that prohibited us from any public gatherings.

Indeed, COVID-19 interrupted Lenten, Holy Week, and Easter celebrations all over the world, including those with Pope Francis in Rome. The most poignant image of the Holy Father was seeing him walk alone towards the empty St. Peter’s Basilica to give us his Urbi et Orbi blessing.

As I reflect on this global crisis of our times, I ask myself, how will the next generations of people learn about us? Will they learn that we survived this painful test of time? Will they see us as a generation that remained steadfast, courageous, and hopeful despite this pandemic? Will they know the importance of nations working together to fight this unforeseen enemy—this deadly virus—to prevent more death of millions of people? Will we inspire and encourage them to face their particular challenges?

It has been painful to go through this crisis. We’ve lost sleep and suffered anxiety. Fear keeps lurking in our minds as we hear tragic news on television about the multiplying cases of people infected with the coronavirus and those who perished. The virus has isolated us in our homes for weeks now, has made us physically distant from another, and has threatened a scary economic recession.

We would often tell each other, “We’ll get through this pandemic.” It’s true. God will help us. We’re not sure why he is allowing this pandemic to happen, but in his providential plan, he has reasons that later on, we will know. Moreover, we need to trust in God who says in the Scriptures, “He is not the God of the dead, but the living.” (Mark 12:27)

So is undergoing this overwhelming crisis a curse or a privilege for us in this generation? I would say that it is a privilege if we see it as a moment to make radical changes in the way we relate to one another as a global community. It’s a blessing if it is transforming our cities, towns, churches, and homes to become better places and institutions of love, care, compassion, kindness, justice, and peace.

In the light of the Gospel, this cross will turn into a blessing if we carry it with love, care, kindness, and compassion to others.

We salute all our front-liners during this pandemic: the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other caregivers. We also appreciate the hard work of the janitors, grocery workers, truck drivers, garbage collectors, and all who provide us with our essential needs.

May this Easter bless us with hope in the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ! Amen.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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