on the Door
A Letter on the On-going Corona Virus Pandemic
by an anonymous contributor--April 5th, 2020
A few days ago, I received a call from a friend of mine. He wanted to know how I was doing,
in the middle of this corona virus pandemic. We updated each other regarding our lives; then,
he shared with me about a speech delivered by Jorge Mario Bergoglio in the Vatican on March
27 this year (2020). A few hours later, after I finished some work I had interrupted, I opened my
tablet, watched, and listened to the delivery of the extraordinary "Urbi et Orbi " blessing by the
It was a moving speech. His body language expressed his feelings of sympathy for the dying,
the dead, and their families. The speech was based on the passage of The Scripture in which Jesus
is sleeping on the stern of a boat, while his disciples--on the same boat, terrified by a violent storm,
wake him up.
They wake him up, and said to him, "Lord, don't you care that we are about to perish?" They believed
in him, but they also believed that he didn't care about them--the question formulated in such a way
as assuming a "No" answer.
After the speech was over, I reflected on the Bible passage again. Then, a thought came to mind:
how different--oftentimes--our reactions are from the apostles' reaction.
When we are going through extremely difficult or painful circumstances in our lives, we also find
ourselves thinking, "God doesn't care about me." We can react like the apostles, by communicating
to God how we feel, and ask for His help; or we can keep our feelings to ourselves, and allow
conscious or unconscious resentment to build up, build up, build up, until little by little we stop talking
to God altogether.
What a shame, thinking that our Father God, Who created us, Who gave us life, Who sent His beloved
son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place, doesn't care about us! Let us repent and turn to our Father, asking
for forgiveness for having doubted His love for us, for having built in our hearts resentment and distrust
against Him, for having turned our backs and refused to talk to Him.
Unlike the disciples, we are not on the boat with Him. We have abandoned Him and decided to walk our
own paths. We have built our own societies, "helping" one another, trying to get united as a global
community, a community in which everything is relative and okay--as long as it feels good to the individual
(fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abortion, lying & deceiving, stealing, greed, pride, ...), a community
without God. We have built our houses, our daily routines depending on and looking for material possessions,
power, popularity, and/or sexual pleasures. They are our gods.
There is a passage in the book of the prophet Jeremiah in which God is speaking, saying: "They have turned
their backs to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, 'Arise and save us!' But where
are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can safe you in your time of trouble."
(Jeremiah 2:27-28). The apostles uttered a similar cry in the middle of the storm, but they were with Jesus;
they hadn't abandoned him and turned to their own gods.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio spoke about repentance and turning to God, but that was an almost subliminal
message. His emphasis was on helping one-another as a global community. The order should be reversed:
First and foremost, we need to turn to God in true repentance, setting aside our idols (material possessions,
power, popularity, and destructive pleasures); second, we need to help one-another. The first has as a direct
consequence the second. However, the second (on its own) never leads to the first, but to a reliance on people
Who blazes the trail and sets the standards? God does. Where are the trail and those standards? In the Word
of God. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me."
This article is about our need to get our priorities straight. It is not about setting blame on any particular
person (some people who are close to God die of illnesses). It is like the poem below, written in 1989 by
Rodolfo Loyola--an invitation to reflect on what or who we are relying on, and steer our course towards God.
By Rodolfo Loyola, 1989
Se construyó una fortaleza
para vivir seguro.
Seis fornidos guardaespaldas
le hacían sombra a todo riesgo.
Usaba chaleco antibalas
las veinticuatro horas.
Alguien probaba antes que él
todos sus alimentos,
por si un descuido ...
Y ayer mismo lo sepultaron
en una gran bóveda de mármol.
Un virus sin carnet de identidad,
sin odio ni amenazas,
le dejó incapaz
de donar uno de sus preciados
¡Y pensar que hay virus
para tantos "invulnerables"
En nuestra cultura del "Yo", se promueve hasta la saciedad que uno puede hacer lo que quiera, cuando
quiera, si se lo propone (las consecuencias o no importan, o son secundarias). Se vive como si Dios no
existiera. Haríamos bien en recordar el antiguo dicho: "El hombre propone, pero Dios dispone."
Recientemente, he estado releyendo un libro que me regaló mi padre meses antes de morir: La
Imitación de Cristo, escrito por Thomas a Kempis--un monje Católico--en el siglo XV. En él, este
hermano en la fe nos pasó el dicho que se ha estado utilizando en varios idiomas por siglos: "Homo
proponit sed Deus disponit". Él, a su vez, lo citó de las Sagradas Escrituras, específicamente, del libro
de Proverbios, escrito por Salomón allá por los años 1000-900 a.C. (Prov. 16:9): "Cor hominis disponit
viam suam sed Domini est dirigere gressus eius". "El corazón del hombre planea/organiza su camino,
pero del Señor es dirigir sus pasos".
Father God, forgive us for having turned our backs to you, for having given our time priority to ourselves
and our projects, for living as if You didn't exist, while admitting that You do. Please, have mercy on us.
In Jesus name, amen.