By Fr. Glenn JonesSo these days we find ourselves in the midst of a health crisis … spawning an economic and financial crisis in its wake. Tanking markets. Fear, uncertainty, trepidation, worry. Isolation against an invisible enemy. Empty streets. Vacant airports. Closures. Shortages. Unemployment. Lockdowns. Dire forecasts. Flattening, but extending, “the curve”.…Opportunity.One of the most pervasive misconceptions about the divine is that, if we are good people, God should make everything hunky-dory for us all the time. Well, for one thing, who among us is truly good? Even Jesus challenged His interlocutor: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18) … in one sense asking the young man: “Do you recognize me?” But more broadly, who among us has never known hardship of some kind? O whiney Christian, who in the Bible did not go through proverbial fire to reach greater holiness … greater happiness, the fruit of holiness? Abraham? Jacob? Moses? Nope. David or Solomon? Uh-uh. The prophets? Ever get thrown down a cistern like Jeremiah?How about the New Testament? John the Baptist? Lost his head. The apostles? Tortured and murdered. Jesus own mother?; certainly God would spare her? Watched her Son die on a cross. How about God’s own beloved child? Beaten, scourged, reviled, crucified. Christian saints? Nope … not a one; in fact, hardship proved their sanctity.On a related note, very many churches have closed in order to help with slowing the spread of the coronavirus. A misconception that many pious have subsequently raised is: “God wouldn’t allow people in church—His house!—to be infected!” Well, using that logic, He wouldn’t allow a church to burn either. But … remember Notre Dame? Or the tragic church shootings of recent times. The martyrdom of Bishop St. Thomas Becket, slain before the altar? Or the martyrdom of Bishop St. Oscar Romero in 1980, gunned down while celebrating Mass? Or, even more recently, 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel in 2016 … throat slit at the altar?As God is Creator, physical laws are His laws as well … and the coronavirus will act in accordance with those laws. Therefore, like Jesus, we are not to “put the Lord to the test” just as He did not throw Himself off of the temple (Matthew 4:5-7) … just as we wouldn’t go into a burning church simply because it’s our regularly-scheduled service.So … where’s this “opportunity” I mentioned. After all, hardships are hardly appealing. But, as the saints proved themselves and their faith in hardship, we, too, are called to remain faithful and charitable now more than ever. That is the major theme of the story of Job—that even the good may suffer even extreme loss and trial, but the righteous man/woman remains faithful nonetheless … to be rewarded by God beyond measure for that fidelity. Christians remember in times of difficulty that we are not to despair … not to love the consolations of God more than the God of consolations. He tells us: “I will put [them] into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” (Zecariah 13:9)We must look beyond the present moment toward the final goal. After all, what worthwhile thing does not require effort and trial? As St. Paul wrote: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) Even Jesus did not receive all that He requested in prayer … praying for deliverance from His coming passion just before His arrest. And yet, more importantly, He provided example for us in also praying to the Father: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) That is perhaps the greatest prayer of all—that we ask that God’s will be done through us, for His will IS the Good. And His will is accomplished through us when we continue in faith, and live according to His Word.Poor disciples … poor soldiers of God we would be if we fled from difficulty and hardship. Our situation today seems dire because we live in such a time and society of plenty and ease relative to times before ours. But the higher we are, the farther it is to fall. Yet someone from a poor country might be unimpressed, and ask: “What’s the big deal? You’re still living a lot better than WE do!” Perspective … perspective.Yes, when the going gets tough … the tough get going! The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” And so … yes, with trial comes opportunity … to teach our youth resilience, determination, strength, wise preparation, and—perhaps most of all—charity. To prove ourselves in faith, refusing to capitulate in the face of challenge. To look into hardship and say with Edmond Dantes: “Do your worst, for I shall do mine!” To be able to proclaim with St. Paul at the terminus of this situation: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) To be lights to the world in times of the darkness of doubt through charity and kindness, for the paradox of charity is that the more we empty ourselves to help others, the more we ourselves are filled. For those temporarily without church services, consider meditating on the “Song of Songs”, a.k.a., “the Song of Solomon” in the Bible. It begins as a romantic dialogue of two lovers, followed by the bride’s emptiness when the bridegroom is lost: “I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.” (Song of Solomon 3:1). That is how Christians might feel at the present moment: where is the bridegroom? But then … reunion, and intensified love: “I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go…” (Solomon 3:3-4) The eternal embrace of bride and bridegroom.Does God ever forget us? Of course not. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name…” (Isaiah 49:15-16) God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves … and so let us come ever nearer to Him, proving ourselves by loving God and neighbor, especially in trying times … for “Jesus, I trust in You.”Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)Rev. Glenn Jones is the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and former pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos.
See also:Conte doubts Chelsea are targeting SanchezBarkley set for first Chelsea outing in game against QPRFabregas and Cahill nursing slight injuriesConte: Youngster Hudson-Odoi not ready yet Embed from Getty ImagesAntonio Conte says Chelsea’s goalscoring problems go way beyond Alvaro Morata’s barren spell.The Spaniard has 10 goals in 20 Premier League appearance, but he has not found the net in his past five games, including the 0-0 draw with Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.AdChoices广告Morata’s last goal came against Brighton on Boxing Day, but the Blues have also not scored in their past three matches – all of which have ended 0-0.Conte, who has been quick to defend the 25-year-old summer signing in recent weeks, said: “I think the problem is for the team, not only for Morata.“Compare last season and we are conceding less and showing great solidity defensively, but we are not showing great quality in our finishing.“We have had chances to score but have not taken chances. We have to improve this aspect, but the problem is not only for Morata and [Michy] Batshuayi. We have to improve the finishing.” Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook