by Rev. Fr. Rommel Molina Arcilla
People are afraid and we seem so lost with this present global health issue, the Covid-19. A lot have died already even medical doctors. How can we be not afraid when even those who are experts in fighting off illnesses and diseases, they themselves, also fall victims to this evil disease? The whole world is trying its best to find a miracle cure which seems to be so elusive and hard to find. We have taken a lot of measures to save ourselves from catching this same disease and we have built our own wall and separated ourselves from the rest of humanity with the social distancing remedy.
This transitory remedy, how I wish, would really be treated as it is understood, transitory. It is simply passing us by, it will be out of sight very soon, everything will be back to normal. That is my understanding of what the word “transitory” really means. I am not against this “social distancing” remedy because I believe this can help us a lot in fighting off especially the spread of this global menace. It is just my fervent wish and hope that this would come to just pass us by and be gone forever.
We are in a turbulent time in our lives and this is a real test for our faith. In his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing, Pope Francis recounted the experience of the disciples in the Gospel of St. Mark, how the disciples, fearing they would drown in a boat when a storm rose while Jesus was also onboard sleeping, cried out to him “to save them.”
I remember my high school days, when I had to travel by boat from Virac to Tabaco City almost every month, and there were times when the wooden boats then would be rocked so hard that you can see many people crying and afraid. Honestly, I felt afraid too and I would always look for the captain and see for myself what he was doing. Oftentimes I would find him talking with somebody with all the calmness and facial assurance that everything is fine. That particular sight was enough to drive me back to my chair and relax and wait for the final disembarkation because the wooden boat would surely reach the port. And it did all the times.
On the other hand, what if I saw the captain of the ship also afraid and calling on all the saints for intervention? Maybe I would have a different reaction and prayed also for myself and for my own safety.
In the gospel of St. Mark, the disciples were afraid of the turbulent storm and Jesus was still sleeping. So, they woke Him up, and Jesus told them; “Do not be afraid!” We are on the same boat because that boat is this Church where we belong. We are so afraid because Christ is not just sleeping. We couldn’t find Him.
Yes, Jesus is out of sight and nowhere to be found today, not because He abandoned us, but because we have left Him behind and abandoned Him somewhere. He is not only the captain of this ship, but He is also the owner of this very ship, the Church. How can He abandon this Church when He even gave up His life just to save it from destruction? How can He be just somewhere else when everyone is looking for Him and needing His help so badly?
He never left us, and He never abandoned us. He always loved us even during those moments in our lives when we knew nothing but to just love our very self and no one else. It was this present generation where we belong who really abandoned Christ Jesus because of our too much self-confidence that we can do anything and everything without needing God in our lives. We were so distracted by the thought and false belief that we can stand without God in our lives. Our faith in Him was clouded with the false idea that we can be our own gods because now we have all the means to destroy everything that God has created.
This is our ship, this is our world, and this is our Church. We all belong here because we have one Lord and one Savior. We must not be afraid because He is wide awake and always ready to save us from this turbulent sea of our own misdeeds. But this ship is still sailing through these rough seas produced by Satan which is aimed at destroying us. We cannot save this ship if we are divided among us. What we need now is to hold one another, help one another and pray together so that the presence of God in us, which we have put to deep sleep, might be awakened and calm all the storms and all the turbulent seas of our lives and of the whole world. Let us not be afraid because He will never abandon this ship, His Church and His creation.
Jesus is still in command of His ship. He always will be.