After The Virus

We have been in ‘lockdown’ for so long now that I’ve forgotten what a normal day was. We do get out; we walk in the park or around a block or two if it’s very windy. Our days have taken on a new shape. We celebrate our mass via the computer. It’s a bit like having a house mass with no other people there. Even our walks outside are different. The roads are quieter and the air seems cleaner. There is nothing much we can do out there so there is really no pressure. Life has become quieter.

This is not ideal. We miss our grandchildren; video calls are good but not quite the same thing.  My wife has joined Gareth’s online choir and they practice every weeknight at five thirty. We are continuing with the Holy Father’s rosary for the Corona Virus victims and workers. Our life has a new tempo.

Increasingly we are questioning why our ‘normal life’ was the way it had become. Why was there so much pressure to get to places and get things done? So many people are working from home now, using laptops and having meetings on Zoom. They are even making television programmes with the participants working from home. When people start questioning why we do things the way we do it can lead to big changes. Are we about to change how we live?

This virus had forced us to question what is really important. Is it more important to save lives or to save the economy? Perhaps the two are not unrelated. If people cannot go to buy clothes, go to the pub or go on holiday then businesses will suffer and jobs will be lost. Unemployment will cost lives. If people are forced to work in unsafe conditions some will die. If we kill off the workforce the economy will suffer.

It seems to me it’s all a question of values. Are the people here to serve the economy or is the economy about serving the people? I take the stance that people are important and the economy is important where it serves the interests of the people. Why do I say that? It is simply because God created people. We are here because it is God’s will.

I have no idea when this emergency will be over. I don’t know how many lives will be lost. I do think that when it is over we need to bring about change. Every Thursday evening we have been coming out to demonstrate our appreciation for the workers in the NHS and emergency services who have risked their lives for us. We have been forced to think again about who is important in our society. We have come to realise that those people we depend upon have been undervalued and their service has gone largely unappreciated.

I believe that we need to rebuild our society as one which is based on Christian values. We need to recognise that people are the priority. The economy, the laws and our institutions are there to serve the people. We can no longer decide on the value of a person on the basis of how much money they have or the level of their earnings or the property they own. As Christians we believe that God values every person equally as He created all of them and gave His Son to die for them, rich or poor, the good and, significantly, the bad.

So, how do we go about this revolution, for a revolution it is? We need to look to Jesus and how He began his work. We remember that Jesus began his work at a wedding and he started reluctantly. He thought He wasn’t quite ready but His mother had other ideas. At that wedding in Cana Jesus gave us three hints about starting out. He recognised that someone was in difficulty and decided to help. That’s a good place to start. How many people have been recognising their neighbour’s difficulties in this lockdown and set out to help? So we have made a start already. It might not seem like a major issue to start on but then Jesus’ first miracle was just about a shortage of wine.

That’s the second hint. We don’t start changing the world by tackling the big issues first. We deal with the practical things. We deal with the problems that are easiest to solve. How difficult can it be to make sure everyone gets enough to live on? Even before the lockdown the big shops were in trouble. People didn’t have enough money to buy all the things they were selling. Shop windows were soon displaying notices of 20% OFF, then 50% OFF. This kept the businesses going. Now if people had a little more money and prices didn’t go too high things might just work better.

The third hint was that Jesus can take a seemingly insoluble problem and do something remarkable. It’s clear that when we work with Jesus great things can happen. This implies that we should not expect to know all the answers ourselves. It is easy to let our own ideas lead us off in the wrong direction. We need to be able to follow God’s will rather than our own. By giving prayer its proper place in our lives we should be able to keep closer to God’s will.

Jesus told us that the most important commandment was to love God and to love our neighbour. If we follow that guide closely then whatever society we build should remain close to God’s ideals. By looking after the interests of others we can only succeed in building a fair society. We have seen that acquiring lots of money does not protect us from disease. It cannot save us from the virus but the unselfish help from our doctors and underpaid nurses can bring us safely out of it.

With the help of God and the love our neighbour we should be able to create a world worth living in.

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