Is it the end of the world? No! But it is the end of the world as we know it!
We are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus pandemic has affected lives, livelihoods, economies, travel, communities and relationships around the world. Hundreds of thousands have died. Millions are infected. Public gatherings are cancelled. People everywhere are quarantined, isolated or physically distanced. Meetings have migrated online. Places of worship are closed. Religious services are live-streamed. Such massive changes in a few weeks is unparalleled!
Another word for these times is “apocalyptic”. I use this word, not in the populist sense of “the end times”, but in the original Greek meaning as “unveiling” or “revelation”, as disclosing that which had previously remained hidden.
In these times, we see human solidarity in a new way.
COVID-19 does not discriminate. It affects rich and poor, male and female, people of every culture, language, religion and world-view. We are all at risk and we can all help protect each other.
In these times, we see religion in a new way. The priority of preserving life trumps religious ritual obligations. ‘Loving our neighbour’ means we stay home, rather than attend worship, even peak observances such as Lent and Easter, Ramadan and Eid.
In these times, we see the natural world in a new way. COVID-19 highlights how all life is deeply interconnected. The virus transferred from animals to humans and wreaked havoc across the world. But we also look to nature for solace in our anxiety and for an antidote to the virus. We must learn to live within limits and to respect differences.
On the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, may we be a kinder, gentler society that is more connected with one another and living in a respectful and sustainable relationship with the natural environment.
Fr Patrick McInerney