When I first heard of the coronavirus I did not think too much of it. Then, I gave up technology for lent. So I simply lived, prayed, and studied. I found much peace away from all the news and social media. These are places where everyone is yelling at you or trying to tell you what is most important. Looking back, each day I was doing my work and praying in my holy hours, just focusing on Jesus Christ, the one thing that ultimately matters in life and death… I experienced a lot of peace and joy while everyone else was in a frenzy… and I proposed the question…
“Do you truly believe in the Resurrection?”
For theologically we know God did not remove all diseases, suffering and death, nor did He make them, but through the incarnation, the One True God entered into them to strengthen and sanctify us through it all. Diseases, suffering, death… are at times true remedies for sin. They prod us to turn toward God. Augustine teaches firmly, “God had one Son without sin, but none without suffering.”
In the early Church one of the reasons people did penance was to prepare for martyrdom or death, and the same is true today… I heard a good homily once, which stated the reason people do not like religion is because it faces death. Death is the one thing everyone seeks to avoid speaking of or confronting in a serious discourse. It is because we do not want to face reality or omit the fall (the reverse of the good news).
This is the beauty of Lent, it teaches us to seek to die to sin and live for Christ, and the more this is done authentically, the more the Spirit of God enlivens our soul. We cease to attach ourselves to created earthly goods, and seek to unite ourselves more fully to God, the ultimate good… St. Basil instructs us clearly, “Here is man’s greatness, here is man’s glory and majesty: to know in truth what is great, to hold fast to it, and to seek glory from the Lord of glory.”
In the reception of Revelation through Sacred Scripture and Tradition, one comes to contemplate and act in the reality of redemption, the resurrection, and the fullness of life in Christ. It is not an achievement or something we produce by our own will, but stems from a salvific encounter through the in-breaking of the kingdom of heaven… A God Who smashes all man’s small expectations and replaces them with the promise of eternal life.