REFLECTION: FAITH IN THE MIDST OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC
A lot of people have written about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the faith of the believer. But in this write up, I have decided to take up the theme of faith again. However, my emphasis will be on defining faith and go further to propose the current crisis as an invitation to rediscover what a genuine relationship with God and neighbor should be.
What then is faith?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC150), “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. The same time, and inseparably; it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed.”
Faith then is a journey and a history, for God did not reveal himself by dictating abstract truth but by acting in human history.
Let me emphasize that the response of faith is also historical and must be renewed and refreshed every day.
It is therefore important to emphasize the practice of discernment whenever we are faced with any crisis and this is a gift we must pray for and also develop through prayer, reflection, reading and good counsel.
Although, discernment requires obedience to the gospel and the magisterium, we should know that the same solutions are not valid in all circumstances. We therefore need to understand God’s patience and timetable.
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, let me state that the definition of faith has not changed but it is how we live and understand faith that has changed with the experiences of our life.
While some people may argue that the coronavirus is a test of our faith in God by making reference James 1:2-4 (consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance), the greatest challenge to this proposal would be the number of children as well as frontline workers who have died due to COVID-19.
Another school of thought will also advance the argument that the COVID-19 pandemic is a punishment for the sins of our world and its people. However, as Jesus clearly stated in John 9:1-7 and Luke 13:4, people who suffer are not necessarily the worse off because God has a reason for whatever happens to man. In Ezekiel 18:23, He affirms that he has no pleasure in the death of wicked.
The above notwithstanding, some others many still argue that God is all powerful, therefore God can prevent suffering (COVID-19). But God does not prevent it. Therefore, God is either not all powerful or not all living. In fact, he is a monster.
However, we as Christians and believers are confronted because as Christians we know that Jesus is fully divine and fully human. Therefore he understands our situation because as a man who lived in our world he also experienced the challenges of sickness and sufferings with threaten man’s faith in God.
Jesus is therefore our model during this era of the COVID-19 pandemic for Matthew 9:36 says Jesus was moved with compassion towards those in need. Let us show genuine love to those suffering from COVID-19 and also adhere strictly to the health protocols.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic though has challenged our faith in God, we cannot abandon or reject God. Even if the ban on public gathering has affected us coming together as a Church, the family as a domestic Church has not been closed down. In places where the lockdown is not in force, the doors to our churches are not closed to individuals for personal prayer and meditation. Therefore, hold on to your faith and Christian practice; for this too shall pass.
COVID-19 should not be seen as an isolated case, this pandemic is one of the issues about theodicy; the problem of evil or suffering in the life of the believer. For this reason, COVID-19 should therefore serve an opportunity for the believer to intensify his or her faith in God.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Dolphyne