26th Sunday (A)
27th September 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“Be united in your convictions and your love”
“If our life in Christ means anything to you… Be united in your convictions and in your love with a common purpose and a common mind” (2nd Reading of St. Paul to the Philippians)
Reading the recent commentary on the impact of Covid 19 on the Church generally I detect a growing negativity and pessimism. I wonder if it is merited and whether it is helpful.
There is no doubt that Covid 19 has had a profound immediate impact on parish life. It is difficult to put one’s finger on the precise impact that is has and continues to have on the lives of people of genuine faith and prayer. I imagine many of you are numbered among them and you are probably all coping well with its challenges. There are many for whom the whole experience is deeply disconcerting and disturbing by way of their future.
Might I suggest that we take a long view of the situation we are in. The reality is that the scale of the Pandemic has yet to unfold. It is akin to being in the eye of a storm that has yet to subside and pass over. The challenge is first to “weather the storm” and as it subsides seek to rebuild and restore. In the meantime, our experience of the storm will have taught us as to how we might best seek to restore and rebuild for the future.
We now know that the threat of Covid 19 is much more than a physical health issue. It is an existential issue. Our very life, our very existence, our life’s meaning and purpose, focus and values are all the subject of new questions in the light of this experience. The full magnitude of the economic upheaval has yet to come. The Pandemic payment arrangements have helped absorb the shock and shielded us so far. But when it comes next year a depressed economy will eventually overflow into other areas of our lives.
Despite these enormous challenges we can take on these difficulties in a spirit of fortitude and confidence rather than pessimism. Our capacity to address the issues has not diminished. Our past experience of confronting difficulty even hardship rightly engenders confidence that we can do so again.
When you think of the big picture there are many for whom a sense of complacency had taken hold of their lives – so this experience is a real “jolt out of their slumber”. For many this experience has moved them to think again on life and how they have been living. Many of them shared regularly at Mass in the past but for various reasons lapsed from regular practice, as did their families. This reawakening due to Covid 19 may open them to a new engagement with the parish community.
Consider too what the experience is like for most young people – they are undergoing an upheaval of their lives in a way they could not have imagined and for some it is truly
distressing. These young people are grappling with new questions about ambition, plans for the future. Surely a church community that is open to their questions and search will be of huge support and encouragement in shaping a post Covid society.
Together we need to give ourselves credit for the sense of goodness and purpose we share realising that it is precisely that well of purpose and vision we can draw from.
“If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or
the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then
be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common
purpose and a common mind”. (Philippians 2:1-2)