March 20 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

empty shelves

A time to look out for one another

Coronavirus calls on us to remember the importance of community and caring for the vulnerable, Fr Michael Kane says.

Last week our parish found itself in the eye of a media storm as one of our young parishioners came down with coronavirus.

The news resulted in the temporary closure of our church building for a deep clean in order to allay concerns.

Given that so many other public buildings across the country began reporting similar issues we soon became ‘yesterday’s news,’ which I was very grateful about. The eye of the storm passed us by reasonably quickly!

Unease

In our own case the news that this global story had touched our own parish created a great deal of unease and worry.

When something like this arrives in your own community, concerns naturally begin to mount.

It is a picture replicated around the country as the scale of transmission becomes ever more apparent.

In truth, I would be the first to admit that I was an early sceptic, questioning a lot of the initial hype around controls that were being imposed in other countries.

Prevention

Needless to say I have now come to accept the necessity of these measures as a way to protect everyone, but especially the vulnerable. It is no longer tenable to deny the scale of the problem we face.

Amidst the growing worry that people have for their health and the wellbeing of family members, a new concern seems to be emerging.

Woeful selfishness is filling the isles of supermarkets in the form of panic buying and hoarding.

We can share our plenty

I heard, only a few days ago, that an elderly lady was refused a single packet of pasta from a young shopper whose trolley was filled to the brim with the remnant of a shop’s entire pasta shelf.

This is surely a dangerous symptom of a serious virus which we might call selfish individualism where personal needs are unrestrained by charity and kindness.

We live in strange times, marked by a prevailing sense that life may indeed become more difficult for us all.

Community

Surely this unfolding reality calls for a different response from all of us, one which tries to build fraternity and community, since we are in this together.

In particular, this is an opportunity for us to show our keen concern for those who are most likely to be adversely affected, like our elderly relatives and neighbours.

Surely we can all agree to offer a helping hand and a listening ear to those who are worried about what the future will hold.

Surely we can share our plenty to make sure they have the basic essentials to get through these challenges.

Self-isolators

In our own community, I have encouraged our parishioners to look out for those who are self-isolating at this time, especially the sick and those with underlying health problems.  We cannot underestimate the power of a phone call so they know they are not forgotten.

Who else will ensure their spirits are kept high, and their cupboards filled with food? Who else will ensure they have enough electricity in their meter or fresh milk in the fridge?

Who else will speak with the lonely with no family nearby or comfort those who are afraid?

We must surely resist the temptation to selfish individualism and approach this present situation from the perspective of collective responsibility.

Crisis response

An effective response to such a crisis cannot simply rest with governments, policy makers and health-care bodies. It must be local and community-based.

As Catholics, that sense of community belonging should already be strong within us. Our identity is bound to the Church as our Faith community.

Catholic social teaching is perhaps the greatest advocate for social co-operation and serving the common good. This is a valuable gift we could share with others in this time of need.

The Gospels testify that the Lord always sought out the weakest and most vulnerable of his time. He searched them out from among the crowd in order to bring them healing and peace.

Christian love

We must learn to do likewise and play an active part in showing Christian love and concern for our weakest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters.

Perhaps we could begin today by lifting the phone to someone who needs to hear another voice.

Above all we should commit ourselves to prayer which has the power to move mountains!

May the Lord and His Blessed Mother guard and protect us and renew our Faith and trust in God’s providence.

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