From the Director - The pandemic is an opportunity

Fr Trevor Trotter

The basic rule of a crisis is that you don’t come out of it the same.
In a time of crisis, you have to choose.
We are living a time of trial.

The three quotations above are from the writings of Pope Francis. As we cope with lockdowns, care for those who are sick with coronavirus, try to home-school our children, or just survive ourselves, we may be able to identify with what he is saying here - or we may not.

It has been interesting to me that Pope Francis has seen this as a time of opportunity. In the first couple of lockdowns, my attitude was that this would soon pass, and we would be able to get “back to normal”! Now it is too simplistic to think that way. With so many people suffering and dying across the world, life will not be normal ever again for many people. Now I am more convinced of the truth of the saying: “The basic rule of a crisis is that you don’t come out of it the same as you were at the start of it.”

The second quotation from Pope Francis is “In a time of crisis, you have to choose.”This is also evident when we consider that many people want the jab and cannot get it, while others can get it but do not want it. They have made a choice. In addition, wealthier nations are buying up vaccines while many poorer nations have not been able to purchase them at all. There have been calls for a humanitarian approach to the distribution of vaccines, but choices have been made that seem to be a matter of us first and if there is any left over, they are yours.

We who aspire to be “missionary disciples of Jesus” are not outside these events. When we see the dedication and hard work of so many health workers and those who put themselves at risk to help others, we can see what is expected of followers of Jesus. By going out and helping others in this time of pandemic, we missionary disciples are following the example of the Lord. This Gospel understanding of who we are and what we are doing gives meaning to our lives.

Many people are helping and caring, but they may not see themselves as living out a bigger story. We have our story of God leading his people even in the time before Christ. We missionary disciples can understand who we are and what we do as part of a longer story that goes back to Jesus. Being able to see ourselves as part of this story gives us strength and purpose, which enables us to serve more readily. We have tapped into a deeper level of spiritual energy.

In this context, another quotation from Pope Francis is powerful: “The world is always being made. God wants to bring forth the world with us as partners, continually.” That we are making the world with God, that we are co-creators, is an amazing thought. Yes, living and working in a world beset by a global pandemic is extremely difficult. But what brings enormous value to what we are doing is knowing that we are working with God in creating a better future for everyone.

We can believe that with God’s help we can learn many lessons from our experience of the pandemic. We can discover what we are made of. We may find that there is compassion in our hearts; we may also discover we are lacking compassion, and this may lead us to change and choose to be more compassionate in the future.

With this knowledge and belief in God with us during this pandemic, the whole picture changes. While it is a time of trial, it is also an opportunity to choose to create a better world.

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Fr Trevor Trotter
Regional Director of Oceania

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