Hidden Blessings

December 14th, 2019 Posted in Uncategorized

“Mi casa es su casa!” I think these five words (“My house is your house!”) express a welcome more generous and warm than the simple word “Welcome!” ever could.

I like to think that the time of Advent is a time for us to choose what words we might use to greet the Son of God, whose coming we celebrate at Christmas. Does his arrival elicit from us more than a simple “welcome”? Doesn’t it instead call from us words and feelings of a more heartfelt and generous kind? Doesn’t the coming of Jesus deserve that we welcome him into the very heart of the world where we live (our “casa”)?

And how will we know if we are offering him an appropriate welcome? The answer is simple, for Jesus told us that he will regard our welcome and treatment of others as being done to him. The sharing of our home, our casa, with them is the way we welcome him. And if we are generous and welcoming to them, Jesus will be similarly be generous and welcoming to us. And his casa will become ours.

When we look back over these last few days and weeks of the Corona virus and the pandemic it has brought, many of us can’t help wondering, “Where did this come from?” and “What does it mean?” The first question may not have a clear answer. We want to know how it got here because such knowledge may help us understand it now and give us a handle on what signs we need to look for in order to prevent a recurrence. The answer will surely come from the disciplines of science, medicine and demographics.

But the question of what it means for us is not so easily answered, and certainly not by science, because each individual will respond based on his or her experiences. Some people may experience the virus and pandemic as God’s punishment for sin, while others may feel it is a “ test” or that it really has no meaning

I prefer to think the virus and pandemic are opportunities, and as such, have something positive to give and teach us. For instance, the social distancing that has come with the virus has made me see how important my friendships are, especially those which span many years but which I sometimes take for granted. The virus has motivated me to learn skills like FaceTime and WhatsApp, which let me not just think about people but actually see them and talk with them. I would probably never had done so without the virus.

A second gift the virus has given me is making me more aware of people I haven’t really noticed or paid attention to before. Previously I might have been aware of them in a superficial way but not really seen them. Now when I go into a grocery store or pharmacy I’m more likely to see the employees as individuals, each one facing the same kind of challenges that I do, and I realize that we do all share a kinship, whether spoken or unspoken. And what we are experiencing right now has been and is the experience of many people in other countries throughout the world. We are truly all in this together.

Lastly, the virus reminds me that I need to put into God’s hands myself, the ones I love and people I don’t even know. Then I find it easier to take seriously Christ’s command to depend on God and not be afraid. We may not be able to attend church right now, but at every moment God works in the way we need. God will be walking with us and, when necessary, carrying us —- all of us —- in his arms.

So, are these difficult and challenging times? Absolutely! But God is still able to meet and bless us, even there.


Frank Majka, S.J.

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