Some weeks ago, I wrote here at the Register about the crippling fear that seems to have seized the whole world, calling all to ponder that Jesus came to destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

I cannot avoid concluding that many people indeed are “in slavery through their fear of death.” There seems to be no end in sight for the fear they feel — no solution other than a cure for COVID-19. Watching the news only exacerbates the anxiety, as the media naturally focuses on the areas where things are not going well in our fight against the virus. It has now become politicized and commercialized, because fear is recognized as one of the best ways to control people, to attract viewers, and to sell products.

What will it take to help people get their courage back? What is the endgame that public officials have in mind? Will there ever be a day when we say, “Let’s all get back to normal?” Will we always have to wear masks? Will we ever be allowed to sing, shout or cheer in public again? Will crowds ever be allowed to gather in common areas and convention centers? Will those who go about living life normally always be shamed and called selfish and irresponsible?

Let’s get into our time machine and travel back just one year. Crowds gathered freely; airports were hives of activity; planes were packed with travelers and concert halls were packed with eager listeners. Restaurants were full of diners and churches with the faithful. People shook hands and hugged, their beautiful faces uncovered for all to see. People laughed out loud, choirs sang joyfully and stadiums erupted with cheers after a score.

That was a year ago. Now so many are cowering in fear. They view every human being they encounter as a potential source of grave illness or even death: “He looks healthy, but I’d better stay far away because he may be carrying COVID-19!” Never mind a calculation of relative risks; every human contact might pose an existential threat. As a priest, I cannot imagine anything more demonic than this sort of fear. Satan wants us to fear and even detest one another. Our communion with one another is devasted by this extreme wariness.

“But Father! This is a very different virus. It’s extremely potent. We have to do this!” Again, I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. But I am a priest, and as such I think we must count the other costs. There is more to life than just not getting sick and not dying. People have lost their jobs; food production has dropped, and famine is just around the corner in some parts of the world. Routine medical care has been largely suspended. Important human events like weddings, funerals, the sacraments and enriching cultural events have been curtailed if not prohibited. Schools have closed and few have been permitted or have had the courage to reopen. There is a cost to these losses as well.

We have been through tough flu seasons before without shutting down the country. I remember in 1968 — a terrible year for many reasons — the Hong Kong Flu was raging; 100,000 Americans died from the flu that year. My grandfather was a doctor and warned us about it, but neither the country nor the world shut down. The sick were isolated; the vulnerable were given heightened protection. I remember seeing “Quarantine” signs on the doors of some of the houses in my neighborhood. If someone had the flu, the entire household was ordered to stay inside for two weeks, and that very visible sign was placed on the front door. Meanwhile, the healthy went about their work, and life continued. Yes, the death toll was high, but everyone understood that life had to go on. Years ago, there were so many dangerous illnesses to be afraid of — cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, polio. It takes courage to live, and people of the time had that courage.

In the current pandemic, which is admittedly severe, we have quarantined the healthy along with the sick, the resilient along with the vulnerable. Crippling fear has seized so many people, and at some point, fear begins to feed on itself. We have shut down our economy, depriving many of their livelihoods and of the dignity that comes from working, from using their talents and from providing for their families.

In the Church, collectively speaking, we too have cowered and capitulated. We have not summoned people to trust and faith. We have hidden our teachings on the role of suffering in bringing forth holiness and future glory. We have not presented the theology of death and dying at a time when it is so needed.

For the whole article. click HERE.

For another excellent article with a similar theme, click HERE.