I write this from my perspective as a priest responsible for the care of souls; I do not claim to be a medical expert. My pastoral concern is that we as a nation and as a Church have succumbed to excessive fear, which bespeaks a spiritual problem. The medical concerns arising from the pandemic are not without merit, but they are not unprecedented. What is unique today is the collective paralysis brought on by this fear. I write to express my concern and to reiterate the constant biblical cry, “Do not be afraid!”
Some weeks ago, I wrote here at the Register about the crippling fear that seems to have seized the whole world, calling all to ponder that Jesus came to destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).
I cannot avoid concluding that many people indeed are “in slavery through their fear of death.” There seems to be no end in sight for the fear they feel — no solution other than a cure for COVID-19. Watching the news only exacerbates the anxiety, as the media naturally focuses on the areas where things are not going well in our fight against the virus. It has now become politicized and commercialized, because fear is recognized as one of the best ways to control people, to attract viewers, and to sell products.
What will it take to help people get their courage back? What is the endgame that public officials have in mind? Will there ever be a day when we say, “Let’s all get back to normal?” Will we always have to wear masks? Will we ever be allowed to sing, shout or cheer in public again? Will crowds ever be allowed to gather in common areas and convention centers? Will those who go about living life normally always be shamed and called selfish and irresponsible?
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