Pastor’s Piece – April 25

Good Shepherd Sunday

Over the past year, there have been calls from leaders of nations and various global activists to let the social changes of the pandemic be a means of changing society to accommodate various agendas. If you have not yet noticed, we have been reset.

Our Lord admonishes us to live a life motivated and guided by faith, not in things temporal. “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (Jn 6:27a) This is sound advice. If you get onboard an airplane, you have to know the destination. We all hope to spend eternity in heaven. We have to aim for it in order to end up there. Our Lord’s advice isn’t only about the afterlife, it touches on practical things too, hence we believers throughout history run into difficulty with the worldly. We seek the food that satiates our hungry bodies, but we don’t stop there. The more abstract and other worldly goal of heaven colors, motivates and g gives proper perspective to the here and now. E.g., we abide by the eternal moral law regarding stealing and in turn, we don’t rob our neighbor to feed our family. Because of the dictates of the other world, heaven, we have a more irenic and just existence here in this world. So, why the conflict?

Historically, the inherent risk of life was accepted, because there wasn’t much one could do about it. Our Christian perspective helped soften its harsher edges and even led us to slowly work towards reducing the risks and sufferings of others. Christian society throughout a millennium plus have recognized that there is an acceptable amount of risk with living. We work for Christ’s Kingdom and He ultimately has us covered. Our hope or investment is not in this world.

Whether consciously, or just the by-product of a Christian society, we faced the risks of life with faith. The faith perspective set the bar of what was acceptable or not. There are various organizations returning and proceeding with this traditional outlook in order to get back to a style of life before the pandemic. We see this in a few of the states in the U.S. and in Catholic schools. The results are hopeful and promising. There are certainly no nightmare scenarios manifesting.

The COVID pandemic panicked us into to rethinking things. We reset and adopted the mere study of the natural sciences (and really, just one) to guide our direction and decision making. Such a field of study lacks the scope to make the decisions about what is good or what is best. At best, the most that you can get out of the study virology is how to avoid a virus. So, that is what we are getting, “food that perishes”, mere instructions that are highly limited in scope. That is, a study of mere virus avoidance, and nothing about how to live life or pursue happiness. To find the answer to that, we have to look beyond the expertise of a virologist. We have to accept the perspective of One Whose expertise goes beyond an earthly horizon.

Since we have become uncoupled with decision making rooted in faith, I fear that we are terribly poised for the earthly to present worldly solutions. The 20th century is full of those sad and bloody experiments. The difference between those with faith, hope and charity of God and those with fear, doubt and selfishness of the world is getting clearer. We mustn’t fear being more vocal and visible about our faith. Society needs to be reminded of what it is missing more than ever.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy