I’m struck by all of the sacrifices that people are making during this coronavirus pandemic of 2020 — staying inside, denying themselves social gatherings, even losing income. And for what?
As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe, I am painfully aware of my own vulnerability. I’ve often written that a common chest cold could kill me. My poor, severely weakened, breathing-compromised body wouldn’t stand a chance against COVID-19. Although the viral disease has killed over 140,000 people by the time of this posting, most people fully recover. Most people who catch the virus don’t even need to go to the hospital. Those who are dying of this pandemic are mostly people who are elderly, chronically ill, or affected somehow by an underlying medical condition. There is, of course, no way of knowing if you, healthy though you may appear to be, have an undiagnosed condition that could make you susceptible. And even healthy people are dying. But, statistically, most children and healthy adults will not have their health seriously affected should they catch the novel coronavirus.
Yet they are making daily, sometimes painful sacrifices for everybody else. The strong majority is protecting the weaker minority.
This is supremely and beautifully human.
When we love enough to sacrifice, then we truly love. When we give of ourselves for the sake of another, then we reflect the divine. To take up self-denial and embrace suffering so that other human beings can know healing and joy — this is the highest level of living, this is the journey into godliness, into the perfection of immortality.
This is listening to the Savior of the World as He beckons: “Take up your cross and follow me.”
There are some people who won’t want me to equate the compassionate sacrifices being made during this pandemic to Christianity and the reality of Christian love. Yes, there are millions of people who sincerely practice altruism and mercy who do not profess Jesus as divine Lord, just as there are self-professed Christians who aren’t Christlike in their loving at all. In genuine Christianity, however, is the divine authenticity of being human The Holy Spirit speaks the truth of life into every human heart, the truth that is perfectly embodied in Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. And every human being is called to be like Christ — because Christ is both fully human and fully divine.
There are also people who do not believe in any such thing as God, who think of human beings as merely highly evolved animals. For them, any desire to stop the spread of a virus should be solely practical, self-serving even. In various times in history, we’ve been made painfully aware of a segment of our species that horrifically lacks mercy and any sense of solidarity with every human being. They look at a person and judge that person’s worthiness of life based on usefulness, calculating human value through ideological reductions. In this COVID-19 pandemic, merciless humans who act merely as animals with complicated brains might actually ask, “Would it be better to let nature take its course, ensuring that healthy and productive adults be kept safe by banishing the contaminated, letting the weak ones die off and freeing up resources for the strong?”
Within humankind, my dear reader, there is a dark side.
I thought that I, perhaps, should not share these thoughts out loud. But I know perfectly well that I am not going to inspire anyone to a callous culling of the human herd, because people who think in such inhuman terms have already asked the above question themselves.
How do you answer the question?
How is our society answering the question?
Be overjoyed, my dear reader, be filled with breathtaking awe, admiration, and gratitude that our response is of mercy. We consciously choose to come together in solidarity to protect as many people as we can from the potentially lethal virus, to make painful sacrifices in order to save lives without discrimination. Each and every one of us is worthy of protection, worthy of life, simply because we are human. We care. We are compassionate. We are merciful. We judge a human being’s value based on the fact of being human. We band our wills together to protect one another, going above and beyond our comfort zones to shield and subsidize the most vulnerable among us, and then we will continue to work together to rise up, to rebuild our economy and socialize face-to-face again. And we do this because we love. That’s what humans do. That’s who humans are. The height of our difference from other animals is that we can use our intelligence and freewill to love completely, generously, selflessly, mercifully — beautifully.
There is nothing more sublime and beautiful than mercy.
Jesus Christ is perfect, divine mercy in the flesh. We are the best that we can be, we are the height of humanity, when we live like Him.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us all receive the mercy of God into our hearts and allow it to give us the power to be merciful — to have mercy on ourselves and on one another in the whole of our human family.
(PS. Just a little postscript to let you know that I will now be posting blog reflections biweekly, on the first and third Saturdays of the month, in order to free up time for my next book writing project. Follow me on social media to receive content on the weeks in between.)
© 2020 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.