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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

No Longer Afraid (A Perspective on Covid-19 Part 35)

Today’s readings:

Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12

Psalm 5:5-9

Matthew 8:23-27

“Attend to the sound of my cry,

my King and my God!”

(Psalm 5:3a)

After four months, we are still suffering under the pandemic of COVID-19. We hopefully are praying even more intently for relief from God. But have God’s purposes been met? Do we understand that punishment comes due to sin? Are we returning securely to God’s embrace?

Evil is in the world, and God does not delight in such evil. “You are not a god who delights in evil” (Ps 5:5a). God does not tolerate evil, because He is all good. “No wicked person finds refuge with you” (Ps 5:5b). God hates the evil that men do, and such men have no place in the presence of a holy God. “You hate all who do evil” (Ps 5:6b).

What are some of these great evils which God abhors, but which are widespread in the world today?

* Pride. “The arrogant cannot stand before your eyes.” (Ps 5:6a). The world today is arrogant due to its technological advances, and think they have no need of God. They have become gods unto themselves.

* Lies. “You destroy those who speak falsely.” (Ps 5:7a). The world today has overturned the truth, which has become relative, subject to your own whims. And now what is good has become bad and what is bad has become good.

* Murder and fraud. “A bloody and fraudulent man the Lord abhors.” (Ps 5:7b). The world today has murdered millions of the unborn in the womb through abortion, and adds insult to injury by fraudulently claiming that abortion is healthcare, and imposing it on the world.

God’s wrath is especially on His own people, because they should have known better. “You alone have I known, among all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Am 3:2). Many Christians today are indistinguishable from everyone else in the world. Many of them are in effect just baptized pagans. Many have fallen into apostasy. They should have been light and leaven, but they have been men of iniquity.

So God has punished the world, sending COVID-19 as chastisement. Christians have not escaped, as their churches have been closed and they have been deprived of the sacraments. “Does disaster befall a city unless the Lord has caused it?” (Am 3:6b).

What is the way out for us? God has already shown us the way. “Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” (Am 3:7). Through the ages, God has already revealed Himself and His way of life to us. Unfortunately, today we no longer hear those clear prophetic voices, and the shepherds of the Church have remained quiet. So there is much confusion about the faith. So the flock has gone astray.

We need to turn back to God and return to His ways. This starts with being in awe of God. This is fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. We need to know who our all-powerful God truly is. “The lion has roared, who would not fear?” (Am 3:8a). As we know God and His ways, we need to obey Him. We need to speak His truth to everyone. “The Lord God has spoken, who would not prophesy?” (Am 3:8b).

As we know the truth of God’s ways, then we walk on this right path. It is a path of justice and righteousness. “Lord, guide me in your justice because of my foes; make straight your way before me.” (Ps 5:9). Walking the straight path is being right with God. Justice is being right with God and with our fellowmen.

So we are God’s people, and we need to show the world the way, and lead the world in that way. In this we follow Jesus and we enter into the Church that he has established. “He got into a boat and his disciples followed him.” (Mt 8:23). That barque is the Catholic Church.

Now life with God will have its ups and downs, as He intends. At times, storms will buffet our house and the house of God. “Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped with waves” (Mt 8:24a). At times, such storms will be so violent as to seemingly cause our house to collapse or the barque to sink. Unfortunately, many Christian homes today have in fact collapsed. And our Church herself is falling deeper into the mire.

Where is God in all these? The disciples were buffeted by a violent storm, “but he was asleep.” (Mt 8:24b). In the gospel of Mark, the disciples even rebuked Jesus. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38b). Of course God cares. And Jesus wants everyone to be saved. And that is precisely why God allows the storms in life. These, including COVID-19, are intended by God for us to realize our need for and total dependence on Him. We need to turn to and return to God. Jesus is the only one who can save us. “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” (Mt 8:25).

What are we to do? We are to repent and turn away from our evil ways. This is the purpose of God’s chastisement. “I overthrew you as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah; …. Yet you did not return to me” (Am 4:11). How tragic it would be if the world did not repent and turn back to God. This would be a greater tragedy than the pandemic itself. And of course, if the world does not repent, there will be even greater chastisements to come. “Therefore thus I will do to you” (Am 4:12a).

God is preparing us, for when the end will come. Then there will be a much greater chastisement. “And since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (Am 4:12b). Are we ready to meet Jesus when he comes again?

This is why we need to be built on the Rock that is Christ. This is why we need to be firmly secure in the barque of the authentic Church. Then our house will be buffeted but not collapse. Then the barque will undergo violent storms but will not sink. “Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.” (Mt 8:26b). The calm after the storm. COVID-19 too will pass. Let us learn God’s lesson to the world and amend our lives.

God is all-powerful and there is no other to whom we can or must turn. The house and the barque are buffeted by the floods and the winds. Only in Jesus can our house not collapse and our Church not sink. Of Jesus, “the men were amazed and said, ‘What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?’” (Mt 8:27).

Let us then put our faith in Jesus, and no longer be afraid. “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Mt 8:26a).

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