By Fr James Arecechira SVD
These days the whole world is in the fear of being in the grip of coronavirus and we have read about the tens of thousands of deaths reported from all over the world. Over the past weeks, new cases were being reported every day and leaders and the medical communities have been challenged to the utmost limit. Places like churches, mosques, temples and synagogues where people go to find peace and consolation have been closed. One can ask the question, does God care for humanity? Why does God want to make human beings suffer?
In Genesis chapter 2:15, it says, “Thus Lord God took the man and put him in the paradise of enjoyment, so that it would be attended and preserved by him”. Even though the creation narrative is a story, the message of this story is that God created this world for human beings to enjoy, attend to it and preserve it. But can we say we are doing this? Are we not destroying nature? Instead of enjoying, attending and preserving it we are exploiting it and destroying it. We are polluting the air, water and the land. Look at the air pollution indexes of different countries, including Australia a few months ago. The waters of how many rivers in the world are drinkable? How much of the sea is polluted, and so many mammals like whales and dolphins are being affected? How much waste is dumped in the sea? We pollute the land with our waste, especially a few years ago it was reported in the newspaper a few years ago that some areas in China have buried lots of plastic waste in the land which was later cultivated by the people; and after consuming that produce from the land, later on many of those people had cancer. So we human beings are polluting our air, water and land because of our greed for wealth and profit. We are destroying the wild life for our food. We catch the God-created animals from the forest and mix with them farm-grown animals and the virus from the wild animals spreads to other animals and later on enters the human body. Remember, we are not the owners of this earth. It belongs to God and we are only the keepers of it for a short time. Suppose someone has given us a car for a short time to use and if we use it irresponsibly and damage it, will the owner be happy to continue to allow us to use and damage it further? Of course not. He may warn us or take back the vehicle from our usage. In the same way God is warning us that we need to care for this earth. We are only the keepers of this earth and not the owners of it. We need to preserve the nature well according to the wishes of the owner of it. This is what we are noticing now with blue skies, cleaner water, less activities in the sea and more freedom for the animals.
Secondly we have a duty to care for fellow beings because all of us are created in the image of God. God’s spirit is present in every human being. We all are equal in the sight of God. Many times our attitude is like the attitude of Cain. In Genesis 4:9-11 it says, “And the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” And he responded: “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said to him: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the land. Now, therefore, you will be cursed upon the land, which opened its mouth and received the blood of your brother at your hand.”
In today’s world selfishness, greed and ambition is given too much importance, so that all want to be rich self-centered and successful. In the race to become rich some ambitious people do not care for the needs and lives of the poor and unfortunate. Many times people are judged by their wealth. There are a lot of unhealthy comparisons between people. It could be due to wealth, power, nationalities, color and education. This brings lots of divisions in the society and people are graded and treated differently. Our God is a God of justice. He will not allow too long the sufferings of his own people, especially the poor. During the coronavirus period we noticed billions and trillions of dollars wiped out from stock markets. We have seen at ASX (Australian Securities Exchange) the values of stocks for a few days come down by billions of dollars. The riches of some of the very rich people evaporated like smoke because of a virus. Even some rich and powerful people with their vast wealth and power were not spared from the coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic brought families together and they have more time for each other. The children get more time with the parents and the partners have more time for each other. We too should not forget the cries of millions of innocent children aborted by their mothers. Isaiah 49:15, it says, “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to take pity on the child of her womb? But even if she would forget, still I shall never forget you.”
God is the master and He is in control. We need to protect and preserve the earth, our temporary home here, which is a gift from our creator. He created other human beings as our brothers and sisters and we need to respect and love one another more. Let this coronavirus crisis open our minds and hearts to hear the cries of our earth to see the needs of our brothers and sisters.