This article by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi was first published in The Sunday Times of Malta on 12 April 2020.
The Coronavirus pandemic has triggered all sorts of emotions: anger, deep sadness, frustration, resentment, anxiety, fear of the uncertainty… Understandably so. It is terrible to witness so many deaths all over the world amidst the rapid spread of the virus.
This particular moment in time could also serve as a learning experience, one that helps us read the signs of the times. Allow me to share a few points for reflection.
Safeguarding life. The Health Authorities, members of the medical professions and so many other people are working around the clock to save lives, to attend to those who have been infected by the disease, to take all preventive measures aimed at protecting the lives of people. We are told to keep safe by social distancing, washing and sanitizing our hands at all times. This pandemic has underlined the importance of having a consistent life ethic, where we seek to protect and defend human life always and in all its stages, from its very beginning to its natural end.
Dealing with the basic questions in life. We tend to fear the silence of existence, and at times we choose several distractions. We complain about life on the fast track, but can’t imagine ourselves slowing down. The present situation has caused an upheaval that can give us the rare opportunity to reflect and wrestle with the deep questions of life, such as: What is the purpose of my life? How can I live a meaningful life?
Deepening our relationship with God. The varied challenges from the coronavirus pandemic invite us to walk more closely with God. The forced virtualisation of liturgical celebrations can help us rediscover prayer – that personal dialogue with God, where we are ready to listen to him and let him give us a renewed vision. We could make the best of this long period by spending some quality time reading the Bible and being enriched by God’s word. It could be a great spiritual opportunity.
Cherishing family life. Being forced to stay indoors can help us re-appreciate family life and cherish what we might have overlooked in our ordinary life. I understand that it is not easy to keep young children engaged, always healthy and happy, and learning through homeschooling. However, this is a challenge that can enhance relationships within the family, and many parents are rising to the challenge.
Fostering compassion and solidarity. The pandemic has underlined the value of solidarity and concern for the needs of others. Several volunteers in Church and other institutions have chosen to selflessly give support to those who are alone, isolated or vulnerable, and those who are at the risk of domestic abuse. I urge these people to seek the help they need.
Strengthening community and communication. The places we go for fellowship are presently out of bounds. However, through the benefits of social media, we are rediscovering how we are all interconnected, and how we can strengthen community life by caring for one another throughout this journey we are living together.
Today, Easter Sunday, the event that celebrates Christ’s Resurrection, the victory of light over darkness, of love over fear, of life over death, fills us with hope that we will emerge from this moment in time committed to a renewed way of life – a life worth living – in accordance with the words of Our Risen Lord: “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi