It has been a common teaching of the Church, from Saint Augustine and on, that God allows evil in the world so that He can bring greater good out of that evil. Actually, the great Apostle Saint Paul stated in his letter to the Romans: “Where sin abounds, the mercy of God abounds all the more.” (Rom. 5:20)
ORIGINAL SIN AND GOD’S RESPONSE. (Gen. 3) Undeniably, Original Sin committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve, caused a moral tsunami that has repercussions in the world, in nature, in the family, in the social milieu, and in each and every one of us and the future generations until the end of time. However, Saint Augustine called the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, “O Happy fault, O Happy fault, that brought us the Redeemer, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In other words, due to the Original Sin of our first parents, God intervened and brought an enormous good from this moral evil, this moral tsunami. The Incarnation of Jesus the Son of God, His life on earth, His teachings, miracles, and most especially His Passion, suffering and death, and His Glorious Resurrection—all came as a result of Original Sin.
CORONAVIRUS AND THE GOOD THAT CAN FLOW FROM IT. This being the case, we must strive to interpret this modern virus that has spread pretty much throughout the world at large through the divine perspective, through the eyes of God. Undeniably God has allowed this physical evil. However, no doubt, God can bring greater good from it—when seen through the divine perspective. Let us delve into this reality!
1. THE TOWER OF BABEL COMPLEX. (Gen. 11) In the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, we encounter a society that planned to build a tower that would reach the heights of heaven. Looking at this externally, the noble and challenging enterprise appeared to be indeed worthy of praise. In fact, God told Adam, the first man, to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, in other words: the law of labor, the indispensable quality of work. Therefore, the problem does not stem from the desire to work, to build, to construct, and to finish this lofty tower; quite the contrary, hard work, intelligence, ingenuity are all virtues worthy of praise. The problem resides in the fact that these builders planned to construct this tower by their own intelligence and creativity, leaving God out of the equation. Being blunt and to the point: they wanted to build a tower to reach the heights of God in heaven, but leave God out of the planning and work in building the tower. How ironic, but how true! Where are we heading with this Biblical commentary and observation? It is this: many in our modern, technologically advanced society have determined to build, to create, to construct, to invent—all fine ambitions, like the tower of Babel—but to carry out all these modern, technological advances without inviting God to be part of them. Better said—to obliterate and sweep aside God as irrelevant and purposeless! Therefore, God, our loving Father who wants our true happiness in this life and especially in the next, intervenes with a surprising and up to this point, incurable virus that is spreading far and wide, attacking nations, families, and individuals, leaving many sick and already a considerable number dead. To be clear and to the point, God is saying: “I am important! I am necessary! I am the Creator, the Sustainer, the Protector, the Healer, and the Father to all. Turn back to me, like the Prodigal Son returned to the Father, and I will forgive you and heal you physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually!” (Lk. 15:11-32)
2. CALL TO HUMILITY. God loves the meek and humble of heart; He loves those who have a child-like trust in Him. The break out and spreading of the Coronavirus compels us to humble ourselves, to practice the essential virtue of humility. Indeed, the humble person does not rely upon himself, his own gifts, intelligence, ingenuity, and innovative spirit. Rather, the humble person relies on God in all times, places and circumstances. Furthermore, the humble person attributes all of his virtues, success and progress to God, the origin and source of all that is good. Let us pray often, especially in times of crisis: “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.” (Mt. 11: 28-30)
3. CALL TO PRAYER: EXAMPLE OF QUEEN ESTHER. (Read the Book of Esther) It was determined that the Jewish people would be totally eliminated from the face of the earth. The wicked Haman had convinced the King to annihilate the Jews, with no one excluded from this pogrom. It would be a racial cleansing similar to Hitler’s Holocaust against the Jews in Europe, or the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The beautiful, pious, and intelligent Queen Esther had a plan to save the people from destruction. All the people would have to humble themselves before Almighty God in prayer, penance and fasting depositing their total trust in God. Therefore, as a result of the Jewish people following Queen Esther’s injunction for a prolonged period of prayer, penance and fasting, God intervened. The malicious intent of Haman was brought to the light. The Jewish people were spared annihilation. Then the evil perpetrator—Haman—was hung and killed on a gibbet. Perhaps right now is a time for all of us to return to God like Esther and the Jews of old by using the traditional spiritual means or weapons at our disposal to win God’s favor; and these are fervent and frequent prayer, mortification and penance, and some form of fasting. It could not be a more appropriate time of the year—in the very heart of the Lenten Season—to incorporate these practices in our Parish Communities, in our families, and in our individual lives. Let us thrust ourselves prostrate before the Lord and with the Psalmist cry out: “O Lord, a humble and contrite heart you will not spurn.” (Ps. 51:17—The Miserere: Psalm of repentance of King David.) “Send forth your spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.” (Ps. 104.30)
4. A CALL TO MIND THE ESSENTIALS AND PURPOSE OF LIFE. Could it be that as a result of the Coronavirus the Lord is reminding us of the purpose of our life on earth, the shortness as well as uncertainty and precarious character of our existence? The primary purpose of our life is to love God fully and totally in this short sojourn so as to be united with Him forever in heaven. Let us go back and remember the basics: “We are here on earth to know God, love God, and serve God so as to be happy with Him in heaven.” Life is exceedingly short as the Psalmist reminds us: “We are like the flower of the field that rises its head in the morning and withers and dies as the sun goes down.” (Ps 103: 15) The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis expresses this truth clearly: “It is not important a long life, but a holy life!”
5. PROPER HIERARCHY OF VALUES: THE SPIRITUAL ABOVE THE NATURAL. It is true that we must do all in our power to avoid contracting the Coronavirus following the indications and rules of the experts in the field of medicine. However, of paramount and even greater importance is the safeguarding and protection of our soul and our immortal and eternal destiny which is Heaven. If you permit me a simple analogy, the Coronavirus causes sickness and at times can even lead to death, as already reported in many cases. Still, how much more serious is that of contracting the moral-spiritual virus of MORTAL SIN. The human body is of the greatest importance. However, the health of our immortal soul supersedes by light-years the importance of the health of our body. Why? For the simple reason that the body is destined to die one day—the day, the hour, the moment and the manner that God has so determined. Whereas the soul is destined for heaven to live with God forever. If due to our own sloth, negligence, materialism, hedonism, addictions and moral-slavery we have the worst misfortune of dying in the state of mortal sin, with this moral-spiritual virus surrounding and clinging to our soul, then we lose God for all eternity. We will never see God face to face. All of our hopes, projects, initiatives and plans go up in smoke and are blown by the wind to the four-corners of the earth. As Jesus states so poignantly: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul? What can a man exchange for his immortal soul?” (Mt. 16: 26)
6. CALL TO CONVERSION. In clear and unequivocal Biblical language, let us take seriously and heed the first preaching of Jesus in His Public ministry: “Be converted because the Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk. 1:15) May the widespread Coronavirus motivate us to step back, examine our lives, examine our consciences and as a consequence give up our sins and turn our hearts totally to God!
7. TURN TO MARY: MOTHER OF GOD, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH, OUR MOTHER AND HEALTH OF THE SICK. More than 100 years ago, Mary appeared in Fatima to three children—Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. She appeared during the course of World War I. The message of Our Lady of Fatima can be applied to the situation of our world at present with the Coronavirus. What is Our Lady’s message applicable in 1917 and now? Very clear: love God, avoid sin, practice penance to repair for past sins, and avoid future sins. However, of greatest importance, as was mentioned in the case of Queen Esther, we must pray, pray and pray. What are prayers we can offer? In every one of the six appearances, Our Lady implored the children and the world at large: PRAY THE HOLY ROSARY! Therefore, let us turn to Jesus and the greatest prayer—attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion in the state of grace to repair for past sins and to beg for healing and deliverance from the present evil that surrounds us. Then let us come together as a family and pray the Holy Rosary. It is true, schools and offices are temporarily closed. That means there is more family time, and that should mean more prayer time and more time to pray the most Holy Rosary. May Our Lady, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Health of the sick, our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope help us to navigate through these tempestuous waters and arrive safely at the port of salvation.