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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Knowing God (A Perspective on Covid-19 Part 25)

Today’s psalm: Psalm 90:2-16

“Relent, O Lord! How long?

Have pity on your servants!”

(Psalm 90:13)

Psalm 90 is a communal lament that reflects the community’s distress. For COVID-19, we as MFC have been praying Psalm 91, looking to security under God’s protection, and rightly so. Now Psalm 90 is the antecedent to Psalm 91, and looks to God’s eternity and human frailty. It provides the right perspective on which we turn to God for relief. Then there is Psalm 92, which is a hymn of thanksgiving for God’s fidelity. So we look to our distress and ask God for relief (Psalm 90), then we affirm God’s presence and protection (Psalm 91), then we praise and thank God for His faithfulness (Psalm 92).

What do we learn from Psalm 90, first of all about God?

First, we acknowledge who God is. “Before the mountains were born, the earth and the world brought forth, from eternity to eternity you are God.” (v.2). God is eternal, and He created the whole universe. This is crucial to know, since humanity, from the time of Adam and Eve, has a tendency to want to be gods unto themselves.

Second, we affirm who God is in relation to us. “Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations.” (v.1). This is important to know, as humanity has looked to itself or to its own power and resources for relief from the troubles encountered in the world. With COVID-19, there are powerful people who even deny that God has anything to do with any advances made against the pandemic.

Third, we acknowledge God’s power over us, including power over life and death. “You turn humanity back into dust, saying, ‘Return, you children of Adam!’” (v.3). This is important to know, considering the lives lost due to COVID-19, plus the devastation on economies and social relationships. We must realize that God is still in control, and is still at work in the world. As such, it is Him we look to.

Fourth, we realize that the all-powerful God, who created us, does get angry and does punish us for our sins. “Truly we are consumed by your anger, filled with terror by your wrath. You have kept our faults before you, our hidden sins in the light of your face. Our life ebbs away under your wrath; our years end like a sigh.” (v.7-9). God created us and directs us to live according to His ways. When we are disobedient, or worse, when we ignore and marginalize God, or even worse, when we turn our worship to other idols, then it is right for God to punish us. He of course does this out of love, to being us back to Himself. All this is important to know, so that we make the right responses to COVID-19.

Then what do we learn from Psalm 90 about our proper response?

First, as has been said, we recognize God’s righteous anger. “Who comprehends the strength of your anger?” (v.11a). If COVID-19 is God’s chastisement, then our response is to repent, turn away from sin, and turn back to God. God’s anger is due to our sin and the great evil that is in the world. We do look to practical and prudent acts, such as social distancing and searching for a cure, but we do need to address the more basic reason why God is chastising us. If not, we can come up with a cure for COVID-19, but the world will still see more future punishment from God, in even more disastrous ways.

Second, we look to God in awe. “Your wrath matches the fear it inspires.” (v.11b). We have turned away from God. We are awed by our technical and scientific advances. But we have forgotten God. We are no longer in awe of Him. He is no longer in the center of our lives. We have set ourselves free from His dominion. So we need to rediscover God and fullness of life in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Third, we look to the wisdom of God. “Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (v.12). The world is desperately searching for a cure for COVID-19. But are we learning the lessons God is trying to teach us? Even in searching for a cure, are we praying for God’s wisdom? More importantly, are we beginning to see that we have founded our lives on what is transitory? Are we seeing what is truly important in life, which is not what the world offers?

Then learning who God truly is and what our proper response should be, we can now ask for relief in the right frame of heart and mind. We implore God’s mercy. “Relent, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your mercy, that all our days we may sing for joy.” (v.13-14). Now recognize that we ask pity upon ourselves as God’s servants. This means that we need to repent of sin, turn back to God, and humbly look to Him and serve Him. This means that we sit at the feet of Jesus, learn from him and do whatever he tells us.

It is God who will save us from COVID-19. When He does so, may we recognize it, and may the world look to His glory and turn back to Him. “Show your deeds to your servants, your glory to their children.” (v.16).

For us in MFC there is more. Yes, all the above, but also that we serve God according to our calling and charism. We are Missionary Families of Christ. We defend faith, family and life. Once the lockdowns are lifted, and restrictions eased, let us be fully about our life and work. Let us be even more zealous in bringing God’s light into a world in darkness. And let us know that we can be used powerfully by God only if we ourselves are founded on the Rock that is Christ. Let us be authentic holy warriors.

Let our prayer be: “May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!” (v.17).

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