The coronavirus has created a furor. The store shelves are empty of hand cleanser and other such products; prices are steeply rising for supplies related to the pandemic; the media has rung alarm bells while calling people to calm; the restaurant where I ate breakfast this morning was empty but for the staff and myself; we are passing the peace in church with a pat on the back instead of the handshake; and warnings and advice are being sent out by organizations that serve the public. The politicians are fighting about how to respond and blaming each other for inadequate measures. So what is new? They fight about so many things.
What should Christians do as a witness? Trust God in life and death; don’t panic; do what is necessary to keep you and the neighbor from contracting the disease; and don’t foment hysteria. We must lead. We must show that death is not the worst thing that can happen to us, while at the same time we should not be careless. We should pray for others and call on the Lord in this time of affliction.
In our conversations with others we may find opportunities for witness and may have to defend the faith in light of the sickness and death that comes from the pandemic. We must also remember that at this time the virus has not resulted in mass death. Such a thing happened in 1347 and the following years with the advent of the Great Mortality, or Black Death, in the East and West. A multitude of people died. In those years about one-third of the European population met death because of the disease.
For now, we pray that we may continue to trust the Lord in all things including this time of the spread of the coronavirus.
Michael G. Tavella
March 10, 2020