4th S. of Lent: COVID-19, Get to Work

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Today’s reflection is for the 4th Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

Really? I can’t even get a roll of toilet paper?! As media updates stream to all our devices at every moment of the day, and as fears of the COVID-19 virus continue to swell, today’s Gospel has a much needed reminder, namely, don’t blame—start helping.

Jesus’ disciples were curious about where to place blame for the man’s being born blind in today’s Gospel. They wanted their desire for knowledge to be satisfied. “His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'” Jesus wisely knows that it makes no difference at all whose fault it was. The only thing that matters now is that he is blind, and that truth presents an opportunity for the love and power of God to be revealed through this particularly sad situation. “Jesus answered, ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.'”

Therein lies the difference between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day, and Jesus wants his followers to know that our desire cannot be for more information so as to place judgement and blame, or to have answers merely for the sake of knowledge. Instead, Jesus’ desire is only that God be glorified in every moment of everyday, through every person, regardless of the circumstances. And that means it’s time to get to work! Time is running out. Jesus said, “We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.”

In the first days of the COVID-19 outbreak, my wife and I had but two rolls of paper toilet paper left. One roll in our boys’ bathroom and one in ours. Quite naively, I guess, I went to the store to get another roll only to find empty shelves—everywhere! Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and even on Amazon!

How in the world can there be a shortage of toilet paper, and wipes, and paper towels, and napkins, and water, spam, tuna, and every other store-able item? Naturally, there are a number of answers to this: fear, greed, and selfishness mostly, though in some cases an exaggerated desire to prepare for worst-case scenarios at the expense of others. I call it the “I got mine,” mentality.

While many have chosen, like Jesus’ disciples, to gain a lot of knowledge about this virus, sometimes for themselves and often to share with others, and a lot of people have stockpiled essentials for themselves, or just to jack up the price and take economic advantage of others, there are those who continue to do the work of God in this present darkness—and that’s exciting.

Information for its own sake is of little value, and greed or selfishness is a sin against one’s neighbor, but to serve others in this time of need is a powerful expression of the love and generosity of God. I’m thankful that there are still so many kind-hearted people doing the work of God while it is still day.

The TUSD school district, in which I am an administrator, and many other districts too, sent kids home with school supplies, books, backpacks, and homework packets. We provide online resources so that while kids might not be at the school, their schooling can still continue throughout this ordeal. So many teachers put in a lot of extra hours to make all of this happen. That’s good work! We continue to provide meals for our struggling families on a daily basis. Just the school in which I work distributed over 300 meals on Friday! That’s good work!

Finally, one of our campus supervisors comes in at a later hour so she spends her morning hours in line at Costco, Save Mart, and Wal-Mart getting what her coworkers need since by the time we get off work the shelves will be empty once again. Thanks to her, our family has paper products! That’s good work!

Our site principal ends her morning announcements each day with this quote by Nishan Panwar, “The world is full of genuinely nice and kind people. If you can’t find one, be one.” I think that Jesus was that kind person in his day. He didn’t place blame, he just acted with kindness and the power of God. He called his disciples to carry on that mission of love, and kindness, and revelation of God’s work through theirs. And so, that’s our job during not only this crisis, but in every situation, everyday.

As people freak out, get upset, hoard, and act selfishly, we do the work of God in this present darkness. We don’t blame, we are generous. We don’t blame, we are kind. We don’t blame, we love. We don’t blame, we get to work.

My prayer is that you and your family are safe, and that you spend wonderful time together with those you love, and contribute in some way to helping to relieve the burdens or struggles of others. Amen?

Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.” ~John 9:3-4

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