I would like to suggest an accessible theological book that I have just read: God and the Pandemic – A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and its Aftermath, by N.T Wright. (available here, 76 pages). Wright refutes some Christian approaches to the pandemic: that it is a judgment for sin, that it doesn’t matter since heaven is what is most important, or that it is an opportunity for evangelism.
While the Bible does speak of the Israelites’ exile to Babylon as judgment for sin and turning away from God, the central story of the Hebrew faith and for Jesus at the Last Supper and throughout the New Testament – the Passover and deliverance from Egypt – is never associated with sin and judgment. The Israelites experienced a famine, heard there was food in Egypt, were oppressed there, then and God heard their cries and brought them out.
Jesus taught us, in “The Lord’s Prayer”, to focus on the present and the future rather than to explain what happened in the past. We look forward to God’s kingdom being established on earth as it is in heaven. We trust in God for what we need (our daily bread) and for forgiveness, even as we pray for the grace to forgive one another. We are thankful for God’s glory and mercy wherever and whenever we pray.
After Jesus was crucified and was buried (‘in Egypt’, so to speak), God brought him to life, and he commissioned us to share in his ministry, through tears, locked doors and doubts. Remember Mary weeping outside the tomb that Easter morning – Jesus met her in her tears and sent her to proclaim his Resurrection. The disciples were huddling behind locked doors (we know about this all too well) – Jesus came to them, shared a meal, and said: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’. Thomas expressed his doubts – Jesus was not offended but responded, guiding him to grow in faith.
We are called to carry on Jesus’ ministry especially in this pandemic: to serve one another, to do the “essential work” that many are given, to see that our own actions express Jesus’ care for all people, and to trust in and proclaim God’s love to all.
I find this book, which is much better than this brief summary, encouraging as we consider where we go from here. I commend it to you.
A helpful resource in these times of the pandemic – by Fr. Martin