“Save your people, Oh Lord. Show them the way to come home. We have been wandering far from our home. Save your people, Oh Lord.”
Those lyrics have echoed in my mind since COVID-19 took charge of our daily lives. I am convinced that they are related to what is happening. Today, our world’s population mirrors the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. According to Bishop Robert Barron in his book, “A Letter to a Suffering Church,” 25 percent of Americans “now claim no religion at all. The percentage of ‘nones’ under the age of 30 rises to 40 percent, and among Catholic youth, the figure is an incredible 50 percent.”
Discouraged, impatient and lost in the belief of God’s omnipotence, they instead put their trust in materialism and secularism. The Israelites’ time in the desert was also one of despair, doubt and emptiness. Many lost their confidence in Moses and, subsequently, in God. Is our world any different?
What is God’s message for us? Stopping us in our tracks, He again reminds us that we are not in charge of our lives. But, I believe, that is only the beginning of His message. It seems He is also attempting to “save his people” by offering us this time in the desert to repent and return to Him.
God has brought the world to its knees. Schools, restaurants, stores sit empty. Airplanes idle on runways. There is only One that is capable of such power. Are we convinced of God’s omnipotence, and are we listening to what is He asking of us? That this pandemic happened during the Lenten season is not accidental. No; in my opinion, it is providential.
The world, similar to the Israelites, has been drifting off course for years, more interested in worldly gods than in our God. Now, many of us are isolated from our loved ones. God is offering us time to shed the worldly demands and activities that occupy our time and draw us away from His love. He desires to be our first priority.
One of Jesus’ last words on the cross was, “I thirst.” Did it merely mean that He needed something to drink, or were there deeper implications? As Mother Theresa (who heard the words during her “call within a call”) explained, Jesus’ request was much more profound. She explained that He thirsts for each one of us, wanting to draw us into His love, and thereby His service.
Today, God proffers the chance for deeper conversion. We are called to pray more, attend Mass (even if digitally), receive the Eucharist (spiritually until we return to church), read the Bible, recite the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, and ultimately to live the words we encounter through Christ. But there is more still. We are called to evangelize.
We cannot sit complacently by while our friends, neighbors and loved ones drift from the one truth that will set them free: Jesus! For that is exactly what has led to this faith void in our secular world. In these troubled times, God entreats us once again to be his disciples; it’s a challenging request, but these are challenging times. Be bold! Our message may be met with rejection or worse yet, ridicule. However, consider the words of St. Paul to Timothy:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ … proclaim the words; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient, convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For there will come a time when people will not tolerate sound doctrine … But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry”(2 Tim 4:1-5).