A List Of Pandemic Opportunities

The discussion on other social media outlets is more vigorous than it was here on “Whose Sin?” A friend suggested a right response is to repent. I think that can be right. For some people, it may be most right. But maybe it’s not number one for everyone.

Repentance seems about right when I am confronted by my sin, 2 Samuel 12:1-7 style: “You are the man!” (And let’s be quite clear: the prophet is not suggesting “you da man” to the king.)

When our life is disrupted: our work, our loved ones, our social contacts, our leisure activities, our finances, our travel (you get my drift) then we may well use our altered schedule to make room for self-reflection. I might realize I’ve spent too little time with my children, that I care too much about money, that I care too little for the needy, or that I’ve neglected God. Then repentance is a good first step. But let’s not get too self-centered about it. covid-19 didn’t happen so some person can reconcile with their spouse. The virus plagues us because we are mortal beings living in a physical universe. We are no more or less special than a species getting plowed under in the Amazon or a planetary biosphere getting wiped out by a comet or nearby supernova.

Does God want people to repent? Surely. But God wanted it last year, last century, and ten thousand years ago no less. And God will want it again tomorrow, as well as in centuries yet to come.

In the Catholic tradition, contrition is but the first step to reconciliation with God. We move beyond it. We confess our sins. We receive forgiveness. And we make acts of satisfaction, acts that ideally deepen the virtues of faith, hope, and love.

What are my opportunities during the pandemic?

  • I take a sincere interest in how other people are doing. I ask them about it. I take the time to listen to them, even if I want to hang up or walk away or tune out.
  • Like most Catholics, my faith expression over the years has shifted away from daily practices (the Hours, Lectio Divina, and the Examen) to weekly ones. Daily, I’ve become a dabbler when I need to be more mindful in my routine. So I can fix that.
  • I’m still fortunate enough (thanks to my bishop) to be drawing a paycheck, so if or when the stimulus money from the feds arrives, I will discuss with my wife how we are going to utilize it for a greater good.
  • I confess I didn’t really want to watch my daughter’s Jumanji movie last night. But she wanted to share it, so I made an effort to enjoy her company, and my wife’s. I did notice I harped about all the leftover food in the fridge that’s been piling up (from her cooking) since she was furlowed ten days ago. That was wrong. But it was also an opportunity to ask and receive her forgiveness.
  • I find I dislike working all alone in a room or office. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

The Old Testament prophets reminded us God does not desire sacrifices, but a spirit that aims to virtue, godliness, and justice. The same is true today. Christian need not sacrifice others, especially people who, in their judgment, are sinners. Each of us has enough sin, plus many opportunities to commit acts of satisfaction during this time of pandemic.

Image credit: the Swiss painter Angelika Kaufmann, 18th century.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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