Pandemic Reflections: Change, Hope and Resurrection

Author: Archbishop Kevin McDonald

Picture: Wallpaper Flare

Pandemic Reflections: Change, Hope and Resurrection

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic changes life in many ways, we need to be open to the new things the Lord is doing, says Archbishop Kevin McDonald.

When the lockdown began I, like so many people, sat down and simply crossed things out of my diary.

In my case these included Lenten preaching, a retreat, a pilgrimage, a day of recollection, as well as meetings and concerts. In one of my emails, I wrote these words: “Man proposes, God disposes.” That, in fact, is something I have been thinking about for a long time-and long before I heard of the coronavirus.

What I think has been made clear to us is that we all need to sit very loosely with our own plans and projects. God often upends them anyway. In particular, we need to sit loosely with the ideas and convictions we develop about how God is using us, and about our own particular role or profile within the Church. 

Of course, we all do have a unique calling within the Body of Christ. St John Henry Newman said that each of us is "a link in a chain." The problem is that our sense of calling can begin to feed our ego and this can happen imperceptibly - without our noticing it.  

We invest heavily and personally in our plans and projects, but we can get hurt and upset when they don't work out or are not well received. 

God's Actions Are Always New

When we react in that way it is time to ask ourselves whether we have been looking in the wrong direction. We may have been looking to our own fulfilment and not to what the Lord is doing here and now. God’s actions are always new, as we read in Scripture: 

“Behold, I do a new thing.”-Isaiah 43:19

”I will give you a new heart. A new spirit I will put within you."-Ezekiel 36:26

We must always be on the lookout for what the Lord is doing in us and with us and in our world. It is always new, and it will often make our current vision and  current plans look tired and improbable.

We need to develop a continuing openness to what God is doing in us and our world -  a taste for the Spirit of God. Being open to the new will require courage and humility whatever our current views, convictions and ideals may be.

Suffering The Path To Glory

In particular, at this moment, we need to be careful about looking forward to “getting back to normal.” The pandemic will change things in many ways, some of which are already clear, but most of which will only become clear as time goes on.

That is a sobering thought. What will be normal in the future is not something we can be very clear about now.

It is significant that Holy Week and Easter took place during the pandemic lockdown. In Holy Week, we remembered the Passion of the Lord. Jesus had to suffer and lose everything before he would rise in glory and before we could be given the hope of resurrection. 

The Passion was the route to Resurrection. There was no other way. There is no other way. So we all need to embrace this time and nurture a confident, open and receptive spirit. Resurrection is beyond the compass of human imagination, but not beyond the compass of human hope. 

Let us be very open to the new things that the Lord will do and will ask of us.

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