A new year has begun and the entire world is happy to say goodbye to 2020 and to welcome 2021 with hope for a better year! We all pray that this will be the year that we put the global pandemic behind and start to normalize our lives once again. Yet, take care and reflect on what “normal” is. Should we go back to what our “normal life” was?
What did we learn from 2020 and what do we want different from 2021? One thing we learned was that a virus, something so small that we can’t see it and something so mysterious we didn’t always know how it spread, could shut down our world, devastate communities, and kill 340,000 Americans and 1.7 million people around the world.
Yet, is COVID the most dangerous virus we face? If we understand and take serious our spiritual well-being and truly desire above all the Kingdom of heaven, then we will realize there are many other viruses, even more perilous than COVID.
For example, the insidious virus of pride has separated humanity from God since the beginning of time. The Fathers and Mothers of the Church highlight how pride is the most treacherous of all viruses because it undermines and destroys all the virtues we may cultivate. Another prevalent virus is that of hatred. Hatred towards any person or any group of people, as well as holding on to hatred, anger and bitterness, are common viruses that eat away at our soul. Envy and jealousy are risky viruses that corrupt our hearts, while making us discontent with anything we have. Greed and the love of money are other viruses that can mutate in various forms and poison our souls. And a very prevalent virus rampant throughout society, we could even call it a pandemic, has to do with lust and the distorted sexual desires and passions fueled by flourishing pornography and oversexualized images fueled by the media, advertisements and so much of what we see every day. These are only a few of the sinister viruses quite alive and active in our lives.
We all pray that the recent Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will inoculate us from the coronavirus, and we anxiously await for the time when we will receive these shots. Yet, are we just as ready and excited to receive our sacred vaccinations that can protect us from the spiritual diseases mentioned above?
Prayer is a medicine we must take every day which can inoculate us from the devious illnesses attacking our souls. Fasting is another shot that can protect us from the evils of these viruses. Reading Holy Scripture and filling our minds with spiritual readings every day will fill us with the antibodies that fight the germs of the viruses. The most effective inoculation is to receive the Holy Sacraments of the Church – Holy Communion and Holy Confession on a regular basis. These are immunizations that will heal us from our sins and reunite us with the Source of Life.
Will we be just as excited and concerned about receiving these spiritual vaccinations as we are of receiving the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccinations?!?
What is another lesson we have learned from COVID 2020? Hopefully we have learned to truly appreciate many things that we previously took for granted. This is an area where we don’t want to go back to our “normal” way of life. Hopefully we appreciate in a new way loving fellowship and community, and how life-giving it is to be with family and friends. We are social beings who are meant to be with one another. All this social distancing and limited gatherings have created deep stress and increased mental illness. Our separation from one another has reminded us of how we need one another. May we remember this, and always appreciate the family and friends that we have. May we realize what a priceless treasure we have with our connections in our beautiful Families of Faith! Fellowship, especially Christ-centered community, is an invaluable treasure to be cherished!
Thinking of our Faith, what about appreciating the opportunity to worship in our churches and to regularly receive the Life-Giving Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Most of us missed out in our Lenten Journey last year, not participating in the moving services of Holy Week and not celebrating Pascha and the Resurrection of our Lord in a festive manner. All of our special feasts and celebrations throughout the year were limited. As the year normalizes and restrictions are eliminated, hopefully we will have a much deeper appreciation to participate more fully in our treasure of faith.
I wish you all a blessed and peaceful New Year, filled with God’s grace and mercy.
With love and hope in Christ Jesus our Lord,