THE SERVANT GENERAL
A PERSPECTIVE ON COVID-19
OUR HOPE IN GOD
COVID-19 rages on. One of the major negative effects for us
Catholics is the non-availability of the sacraments, especially
Mass and Holy Communion. We may identify with the sorrow of
Mary Magdalene, who wept at the death of Jesus, and now at
the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb. “They
have taken my Lord” (Jn 20:13b). For us today, both
Church and civil authorities have taken from us, or have deprived
us of, our Lord. Church authorities have closed churches and
suspended Masses, literally depriving us of the body of Jesus.
Some civil authorities penalize Christians who are at parking
lots for church service and to hear a sermon, even as they
remain in their cars and practice social distancing. Deprived
of the Word and the word, that brings much sorrow.
Jesus appeared to Mary, who then “went and announced
to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’”
(Jn 20:18). How many Catholics have actually seen Jesus, or
have most of them remained blind? Many are no longer practicing.
Many are lukewarm in their faith. Many do not show adequate
reverence for the Eucharist. Not having access to the Eucharist
is for us a great loss, but given the circumstances over which
we laypeople have no control, we must cling on to faith, even
as we are unable to cling on to that blessed host. After all,
Jesus had told Thomas, “Have you come to believe because
you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and
have believed.” (Jn 20:29).
But if we do see, then we “know for certain that God
has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
(Acts 2:36). Do Catholics see that Jesus is Lord? Then we
should obey him in everything. Do Catholics see that it is
our sins that sent him to the cross to be crucified? Then
we should stop sinning. Do Catholics see that Jesus is the
Messiah? Then we must look to him, and only him, for our salvation.
Fullness of life is only in Jesus, and certainly not in the
things that the world values and people run after.
“what are we to do” (Acts 2:37)? As many of today’s
people of God are nothing more than baptized pagans, we need
to heed what Peter told the people, “Repent and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness
of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.”
(Acts 2:38). Now we know that most Catholics were baptized
as infants. As such, our original sin was washed away and
we received the Holy Spirit. But we also know that most adult
Catholics today, having been baptized and also confirmed,
are not fully living out the faith.
what are we to do? First, we must repent of sin. And we must
strive not to sin again. Second, we must be filled with the
Holy Spirit. This is a renewed infilling that happens through
the so-called baptism in the Spirit. For us in MFC and for
those we try to reach, these two things happen with the help
of a program called the Christian Life Seminar (CLS) or the
Life in Christ Seminar (LCS). The crucial aspects of this
seminar, which are often not included or not emphasized in
other Church programs, recollections, seminars, catechetical
instruction, retreats and conferences, are the aspects of
repentance (in the true sense of metanoia or a total turn-around
of one’s life) and baptism in the Spirit. But these
two are the most basic and lay the foundation for everything
Now Peter also said, “Save yourselves from this corrupt
generation.” (Acts 2:40b). If his generation then was
corrupt, it is much more so now. Today we have widespread
apostasy by Catholics, the rapid advance of the culture of
death, vicious assaults on faith, family and life, modernism,
LGBT,sexual immorality of clergy, and even Satanism. Today
we have in a massive way the sins that cry out to heaven for
vengeance. In particular, these are abortion, sodomy
and social injustice. All these have been happening for
decades, but much more so now. They cry out to heaven for
so now we have COVID-19. It is chastisement from God. I believe
that it is not yet time for the final judgment, but that it
is a not-so-gentle reminder, a lesson that needs to be learned.
The Lord “loves justice and right.” (Ps 33:5a).
People in the world have not done right but have done great
wrongs. As justice is to give to someone what is his due,
and as the sins of the world cry out to God for vengeance,
is not God acting in justice to afflict the world with COVID-19?
the other truth is that “the earth is full of the mercy
of the Lord.” (Ps 33:5b). This one verse has the back-to-back
virtues of justice and mercy. They are two sides of the same
coin. God is just, but God is merciful. God punishes, but
God also withholds punishment. In both instances, it is about
God who loves.
what are we to do? The world is focused on defeating COVID-19
by various means, and rightly so. But what most needs to happen
is for people to repent of their sins and turn back to God.
Starting with the people of God, members of the one true faith.
Starting with Catholics, members of the one true Church.
We have just finished Lent and Holy Week. Jesus is risen.
As Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, we need to repent
and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And we must fear not so
much COVID-19, but the God who has power over it. And we look
not so much to the cure or vaccine to be developed, but to
the mercy of God. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon
those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy.”
(Ps 33:18). We keep our eye on the Lord, even as we do not
see him physically, and the Lord’s eye is upon us.
will happen? God’s desire, in His mercy, is “to
deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive through
famine.” (Ps 33:19). In our particular case today, “through
this pandemic.”God does want to save us. But ultimately,
salvation is about our souls. We may die of COVID-19 but if
we are in a state of grace, then we will go to heaven. But
what we really need is for our souls to be saved from eternal
death. This is why God’s chastisement is severe for
a world deep in darkness and sin.
the world learn the divine lesson through COVID-19. May there
be the start of conversion and transformation in Christ. May
the world realize that ultimately human wisdom and power are
not what deliver us, but only God. “Our soul waits for
the Lord, he is our help and shield.” (Ps 33:20). May
the world realize that ultimately our hope is not in a vaccine
or cure, but our hope is only in God and His mercy. “May
your mercy, Lord, be upon us; as we put our hope in you.”
In general, this sin is the killing of the innocent. It would
include murder, homicide, infanticide, euthanasia. The first
murder was that of Abel by his brother Cain. God said to Cain,
“Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the
ground!” (Gn 4:10).
Sodomy is unnatural sex between two males or between two
females. God said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah
is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down to
see whether or not their actions are as bad as the cry against
them that comes to me.” (Gn 18:20-21). Some have said
that the sin of Sodom was actually not homosexuality but neglect
of the poor. While social injustice is certainly a sin that
cries out to heaven, in this case it was more of homosexual
depravity. Jude says, “Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and
the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they,
indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice,
serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal
fire.” (Jude 1:7).
This includes various ways by which the poor are oppressed.
With regard to widows and orphans, who were the very poor
and marginalized at that time: “You shall not wrong
any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out
to me, I will surely listen to their cry. My wrath will flare
up, and I will kill you with the sword” (Ex 22:21-22).
With regard to withholding wages from the laborer: “Otherwise
the servant will cry to the Lord against you, and you will
be held guilty.” (Dt 24:15). “Behold, the wages
you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are
crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached
the ears of the Lord of hosts.” (Jas 5:4).
 We do pray for such a cure or vaccine, but even this will
be due to the Lord’s mercy and provision. Further, the
cure or vaccine will resolve COVID-19, but not the darkness
of our souls. If so, will a greater and more deadly chastisement
be far behind?