The World Will No Longer See Me
We all have our stories to tell about Coronavirus. The number of con- firmed cases, the death toll, the grieving families, and it effects on the economy, social lives and spiritual lives are some of the many conse- quences of the pandemic. Reflecting on all this, one cannot but ask,
where is God. If He is as good as we claim, why would He have allowed this dreaded virus to cause us so much pain and grief? Why is God not answering our prayers and putting a stop to the crisis?
These questions are real. They haunt us. As a priest, I hear them. And I am not immune from the reality of my parishioners. Whatever they go through affects me. I share in their pain. I have my own questions too, doubts, struggles. I pray the Eucharistic Prayer and ordinary bread becomes the Body of Christ, but when I pray for an end to the Coronavirus, all I hear is the threatening news of a second wave. Where is God? Why is He not doing something?
I rationalise, and rightly so. Something is happening. It is throwing us out of kilter. We cannot but think; ask questions. But reality is not limited to our thinking, to what we know rationally to be true. There are metaphysical realities. When we ignore these realities and focus solely on empiri- cal science, we stop seeing the whole picture. We get caught up in scientism, ‘... a proposition such as “the only meaningful statements are those deriving from natural science.”’
Such a proposition Rupert Shortt goes on to suggest prevents us from seeing God’s goodness radi- ating before us. It blinds us to what God is doing, among us, amidst the trials, the tribulations and even evil. And this kind of proposition is self-refuting. It comes from a materialistic worldview. Christ nails it in the Gospel (John 14:19), ‘In a short time the world will no longer see me...’ For Christ has risen. He transcends the world’s methods of seeing.
‘But you will see me’, Jesus said. Who are this ‘you’? They are those who live not by sight (living with a mindset of scientism), but by faith (responding intelligently to what God is communicating and accomplishing in the here and now) – 2 Corinthians 5:7. They are those who bring their questions, doubts to the Lord. They let the Lord into their stories and their darkness. They wrestle with the Lord as Jacob wrestled with Him. And they wait on the Lord for answers.
This faith is a consequence of love. It comes from a sincere desire to listen to the Lord, to let Him have His way in our life and to do what He asks of us. It is the love that summons us to will what God is willing; to journey from what is perceptible to what lies hidden in the depths of our hearts. ‘Late have I loved you, Saint Augustine laments. ‘You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you... You were with me, but I was not with you.’
How revealing are those words of Saint Augustine! They tell our stories. We ask – Is God in our current crisis? We keep looking for answers. Meanwhile, He has always been within us, in our midst as the prophet Jeremiah admits. But we have not been with Him. We turn our backs on Him. No wonder we can no longer see Him nor understand His plans. Rather we have settled for what we want to hear and see. But even at that, Jesus is not leaving us orphans. He promises us another Advocate.
That Spirit of truth who will come to lead us to all truths. First the truth that God loves us, and He is in our midst ordering and governing all things according to His plans and purposes. Second the truth that even though we turn our backs on God, God will not give up on us. In fact, He is waiting for us to take His hand and return home. Finally, the truth that even now He can make all things right if only we love and do what He commands. For by loving, we join Him in renewing the world.
Fr Francis Afu
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