The advent of the novel Coronavirus has exposed a lot of loopholes and lacunae of various institutions including the Church. The unpreparedness of many institutions is coupled by the virus’ urge to wage a serious introspection on them. But the question is asked: Are we ready to bring novelty to our institutions (including the Church)? Does the virus help us to be good Christians or the faith of many are wavered due to the storms of the pandemic? What amazes me are the novelties that the novel virus bring to our common lives. Who could not imagine that nose masks that are used in hospital theatres, building sites and factories are now a common denominator for all (no wonder some hashtag it #Mask4All)? Social life is now limited to the front door and the fight is not only with the pandemic but with the infodemic which kills more than the common enemy, the virus (also, some hashtag it #SpreadCalmNotFear). Christians all over the world can draw lessons from the novelty of the coronavirus. Some of the lessons are:
1. No Mask, No Entry
Many of the places we go including the Church are labelled with the inscription No Mask, No Entry. There are a lot of Nos (don’ts) in this era of the pandemic. Can we apply these negatives to our Christian lives? Can we say No Virtuous Life, No Entry into the Church or No Communion (fellowship of the members of the Church), No Entry? This is the time for us Christians to have a deep introspection about our Christian life. We should put on the right mask in order to eschew the divisions that are among us Christians. If we are fighting a common enemy of a virus which has its own mindset and ordeals, then we must fight the deadliest common enemy of division in our Churches. Christians must learn from the virus to put the necessary Christian protocols in place. We must say No to division, hatred, bitterness, evil, defamation, scandals, etc so as to have Entry into the common house (economy) of the Church.
2. If the frontline is our front doors, then the front covers of our Bibles are the front doors to our Christian life.
Today the works of the front liners are very crucial to the curtailing of the pandemic. Health workers who were working in their facilities trying to go with the triage are now ‘soldiers’ at the front line of the pandemic. We are cautioned that the front line is our front doors. Can we not bring a useful twist to this? Imagine if Christians all over the world today can use the Bible in their homes, then we can have a good Christian life. The front covers of our Bibles should usher us to read the Bible as we sit in our homes. This is the time we must evangelize ourselves, our families, friends, relatives and even to a large extent the world. Christians must pick up the Bible (which has solutions to the world’s problems including the virus) in order to arm and give hope to the world. We must always remember that the Front covers of our Bibles are the front doors to our Christian lives. Read, meditate, pray and contemplate (Lectio divina) the Bible every day for it is the mirror of hope in this era. Be abreast with the cover and the content of your Bible today!
3. If we are not only fighting a pandemic but also an infodemic, then we must remember the ‘pandemic declaration’ of Pope Francis’ Year of the Bible in order to fight the ills of evangelism.
Catholics today if not all have forgotten the Year of the Bible which Pope Francis declared. Due to the ravages of the coronavirus with its attendant rise in the cases of those affected has made a lot of people on the watch for the virus. Many have forgotten the pope’s declaration. Can we be blamed for such a phenomenon of forgetting? As we make the front covers of the Bible the front doors to our Christian lives, we must also remember the Year of the Bible. Let our hearts be set on fire for evangelism as the year of the Bible demands of us. This is the time we must be our own evangelizers. Because many of us are sacramentalized but not evangelized. We should be authentic servants of God’s word (Africae Munus, 15) in order to have valued Christian information. “Today too, an essential task of the Church is to bring the message of the Gospel to the heart of African societies, to lead people to the vision of God. As salt gives flavor to food, so this message makes those who live by it into authentic witnesses. All who grow in this way become capable of being reconciled in Jesus Christ. They become sources of light for their brothers and sisters.” (Africae Munus, 15)
Through the reading of the Bible, we are poised to fight certain hurdles of evangelism (e.g. the inability of Christians to read and share the Word) and some bad teachings which are against the Church and the Christian life. Christians must use this opportunity to read, share and live the message of the Bible in their Small Christian Communities. And we must remember for us Christians, COVID means Christians must Offer Valid (Valued) Information of the Christian life in this Distracting times.
Michael Selasi Combey