The 8 by 10 of my grandma Lucille
I was asked if I would agree to let our youth ministry host Wednesday evening meetings here at SCL. The case was well made that isolation and loss of contact with friends has a high impact in a negative way with young people. Could we find a way to have them come together to reinforce their faith and their love for one another? Of course, I said yes. But I’m the covid cop here at SCL, the one who has to say we can gather but only in ways that respect the mandates from the archdiocese and the public health officials. So I told Steve our youth minister that I wanted every young person to bring an 8 by 10 photo of someone who is a member of their family who is in the high risk group, your grandma or grandpa, your uncle with diabetes, your aunt with COPD. Bring the photo and every time you felt like blowing off the restrictions, you had to pull it out and say to yourself, I love you, but I love doing what I want more. I hope you get what I was after, not my will or rule was the point, their love was.
When tested with the question what is the greatest commandment Jesus replied: you must love God with your whole heart mind soul and strength, this is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it, you must love your neighbor as yourself. If you claim the name Christian, this lies at the heart of your commitment, God, self, others determine what you hold dear, what you choose, what you sacrifice for, what you live for.
Can I tell people that their freedoms (Bill of Rights) as citizens of the United States don’t apply because of the virus? Can I tell them I have perfect public policy that will balance the demands of safety and commerce? No I can’t, but as priest and pastor I can tell them this, If Jesus Christ is your model and guide, your savior and source of wisdom, some things and some people come first. None of our cherished rights are absolute, the needs of the vulnerable ask me to curtail my freedoms to choose their safety, their needs before my rights. I’m not demanding anyone to like this, or even agree to it, but I do ask for internal honesty, don’t claim commitment to Christ if you aren’t willing to die to self in order to live it. So wear your mask and keep your distance, for Christ, for the vulnerable, for your grandparents.
Do it at a rally or a protest, for black lives matter or your candidate of choice, choose to be strong and choose to be kind.
Last, as this slow motion nightmare creeps on and on, take some time to learn about what a cruel and horrible death those most vulnerable experience when they die because they can’t breathe (isn’t that prescient) as the virus shuts down their life breath. Learn about the isolation of their last moments, and the terror they experience as well as their loved ones as they die without family bedside. Ask someone who has been there what the scene is as multiple systems fail, with no treatment yet to alleviate, to be the one who tries to offer comfort. Put a face on those you might infect because you are just “done with this” or I don’t believe it is as bad as they say (knowing of course your many years of study of medicine and viral pandemics) or I won’t get that sick. I’m not always the man I profess to be by my faith and my profession, but I am committed to being more and more like Christ, of choosing my freedoms, guided by the two commandments of love. Who knew how demanding it would be to call myself Christian, I didn’t; now I know, what will I choose?