By Kaitlin Klein
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” – G. K. Chesterton
My first reaction is to chuckle at this quote — because I imagine Chesterton sharing his wisdom with jolly and wit; because of course our neighbors aren’t also our enemies, right?; and because … it may actually be true.
I find that this quote is relatable especially during the COVID-19 global pandemic which is impacting each and every person. People across the world are in a similar boat to mine. Every human being is affected in some way, whether physically, psychologically, emotionally or simply because life isn’t exactly the same as it used to be. A virus knows no race or culture. The human conditions of suffering, relief, anxiety, joy, stress and peace are reigning now across the globe over things related to the same issue: a sickness that reminds us that although we are each unique individuals, we are all the same.
Within my friend group, conversation and “checking in” almost always begin with how we are coping with the stay-at-home order. Three of my neighbors and their families, who are different from each other in many ways, I now view as the same. They also cannot see family and friends or keep their same routines. The people I see wearing masks at the grocery store are not only people of different backgrounds from who-knows-where; they, just like me, are protecting others, themselves and their families.
I’ve been reflecting on our sameness; on the earth’s shared humanity. On how a virus unites people who otherwise may have had differences that built too high a wall between them. On how FIRST, we are the same, a people struggling with the same intruder and a people that God loves; and SECOND, we are different, with unique histories and origins, a people that God not only loves but that He created. On how Jesus Christ came to earth, suffered, died and rose for ALL of these people. When a treatment, vaccine and cure are found, it will affect us all. We are all, at our foundation, humans that the Lord lovingly created and cares for deeply.
For Christians, our faith is a constant in a world of uncertainty. For those of different faiths and without faith, that changes nothing in regard to the virus and to God’s love. For whom much is given, much is expected. I feel blessed to have my faith, family and faith community, and I feel called to pray for the whole world. Pope Francis said in a Lenten homily, “Many people are weeping. We too, from our hearts, accompany them. It wouldn’t do us any harm to weep a bit as our Lord wept for all of His people … if my heart isn’t entering in and I’m not capable of weeping, ask the Lord for this grace: Lord, that I might weep with You, weep with your people who are suffering right now” (March 29, 2020). Never underestimate the power of prayer. Let’s join together to pray for the world, the world that the Lord created and loves, to pray for and to love our neighbors and our enemies.