By Fr James Areechira SVD
The pandemic has thrown all our plans up in the air, forcing us to rely more on the providence of God.
The title of 1864 oil-on-canvas painting by Edwin Landseer is “Man Proposes, God Disposes”. This saying is true today, in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Looking back to the last six months almost of all people in the world have had to make changes in their lives. During these months our freedoms have been restricted, most of the people in the world have had to wear masks, more than 22 million people were coronavirus-positive in the world, and nearly 800,000 people died of this virus. It has also affected many people psychologically and in some cases family relationships are being influenced.
Six months ago none of us thought these things would happen. All of us had our own plans and ideas on how to spend these six months. But most of our plans had to be either cancelled or postponed. Looking at the life of Jesus and the disciples we read in the New Testament that Jesus always sought to carry out God’s will but the disciples had their own plans and desires. In the gospel of St Mark 10:34-40 we read about two of Jesus’s disciples; James and John were aiming for the position of sitting at the right and left of Jesus. Jesus told them even he himself could not decide about it and only God alone is the one who grants those positions. On another occasion Jesus told the disciples that, “I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the elders… (Mt. 16:21-28) Peter told Jesus not to say things like that. They could not imagine anything like that would happen to Him, but we know from history that Jesus was arrested, tried and condemned to death on a cross.
Our ways are not the ways of God. From the last six months we have experienced that our plans are not God’s plan. We are interested in using the earth for our own pleasures and enjoyment but God is interested in restoring the earth damaged by human activities and pollution. To put it into real life situation, when children are small the parents buy toys, drawing books and colour pencils for the children to play with, to be happy and also learn to draw and colour things when they are small. But sometimes they like to play inside the house and draw on the floor and walls. This will break things and dirty the floor and the walls. Seeing the mess the parents hide the toys and colour pencils for a while and clean the floor and the walls. After a while the children will come around and beg and plead with the parents for the toys, drawing books and colour pencils. As we know since the parents love the children, after a while of giving them warnings they may allow the children to play with the toys and use the drawing books and colour pencils again. Because of the warning they will be more careful not to damage things and dirty the walls and floor. It is a teaching and learning process. Gradually they become more and more responsible. In the same way, I feel it is a time for all of us to turn to the Lord and plead with God to save us from the pandemic. We must not forget our duty to protect our nature and care for our neighbours.
Image: 'Man proposes, God disposes", 1864 oil-on-canvas painting by Edwin Landseer. (Wikipedia)