Keep awake. Beware. Keep alert.
This is a Gospel message for pandemic times, and for the national and global crises that we are living through right now.
Pope Francis sent a message about our response to these crises, writing in the New York Times on Thanksgiving Day:.
“Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.
“These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion.”
Pope Francis reminds us that we must be awake not only to the coronavirus but also to the other crises in the world, “just as dire, but are just far enough from some of us that we can act as if they don’t exist.” We must be awake to wars going on right now, to refugees fleeing not only war but also hunger and poverty, to the terrible inequalities of income and wealth in the United States that have grown even greater during the pandemic, to the racism and prejudices that still infect this country.
“These tragedies may seem distant from us, as part of the daily news that, sadly, fails to move us to change our agendas and priorities. But like the Covid-19 crisis, they affect the whole of humanity.
“Look at us now: We put on face masks to protect ourselves and others from a virus we can’t see. But what about all those other unseen viruses we need to protect ourselves from? How will we deal with the hidden pandemics of this world, the pandemics of hunger and violence and climate change?”
Calling on us to dream big, Pope Francis sees this moment as ripe for change:
“God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth.”