musings on the covid pandemic– 500,000 is not just a number

i watch the local station komo for the evening news as well as world news tonight with david muir. yesterday the national news reported that we hit the 500,000 mark for covid deaths in our country. muir reported that more people have died from covid in the usa than in WWI, WWII and the vietnam wars combined. this number is beyond what we can imagination.

for a few minutes, they showed snippets of several people who had died from the virus that abc had covered over the past year. their stories– plus the reactions from family members and friends was gut wrenching.

i cried.

many of us know of family and/or friends who have had a loved one die from covid. this virus has broken hearts. these hearts number much more than a half a million. so in the advent of the covid vaccine, there is a glimmer of light.

we hear the numbers on tv or the radio and can become numb to them. it becomes commonplace that families are distraught because they cannot be next to their loved one in the icu when they pass on. we see the various ways that we are getting tired of the various precautions needed to minimize this pandemic. we are frustrated with the slow rollout of the vaccines to the places where they can be distributed.

we want this pandemic to be under control so we can get on with life. i understand this sentiment– i too want to see my friends and family without masks and not six feet apart too. i too do not want to bury my friends’ parents or anyone’s parents or sons/daughters.

but now come the variants from the UK and south africa. we are told that they are more easily transmissible and thus more deadly. it might take us longer now to get to the needed “herd immunity” that we need to be safer. scientists are testing how effective the current vaccines are against they new strains of covid. the world has never seen this kind of health challenge in our history as earth.

as we have seen with the spread of the virus, so too we see people people of color and who live in poverty and on the streets suffer more and disproportionally receive the vaccine.

is it two steps forward one step back or one step forward two steps back? i sigh…

can we double down and use a double mask now? do we respect the human lives of others that we do and do not know to continue to be inconvenienced? how collectively patient can we be? can we view our actions as acts of love for our brothers and sisters?

last year during lent, i commented in a post that the coronavirus is a cross that we are carrying. it is our meditation of the stations of the cross. a year later, we have not fallen three times like jesus, we continue to fall. and have to get up again.

can this lenten time be an even greater time of grace through the Spirit since the cross is heavier now? indeed, we are in a test of faith. not a school test but a testing of steel like on a fine sword. what we feel now is the heat of the fire and the hammer blows.

psalm 121 says, “our strength comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” may we be open today to all the graces and gifts of the Spirit. may we be renewed in the Lord as God continues to walk with us with these heavy crosses.

let us pray:

To our brothers and sisters who have contracted and are suffering due to the Coronavirus Disease, we pray that God’s healing hand may rest upon you.

To medical doctors, nurses and the supporting staff who are in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19,may the Good Lord sustain you and inspire you to render your life-saving services with due care, love and compassion.

To all those who have lost their loved ones due to the Coronavirus outbreak,we convey our deepest sympathies. We pray that their souls, through God’s mercy, may rest in eternal peace.We pray that God may grant all bereaved families his consolation and strengthen their faith and hope in Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord. Amen.

(Prayer adapted from the 2020 Easter Message of the Catholic Bishops of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe)

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