A PANDEMIC OUTBREAK which apparently had its initial manifestations in China, has pushed the world into a global health crisis. Close to 126,000 lives have perished and nearly two million people across the globe have been tested positive for Covid-19 coronavirus (as of April 15). Looking at the magnitude of the disaster that continues to evolve every day, one cannot but begin to think of ways to cope with the reality of being infected and dead!
What happens if one gets infected? How does it feel to be quarantined and isolated, and the reality of death stares down at you? These are topics that we prefer not to think about. We prefer to believe that we are magically immune to these possibilities.
When someone close to us dies, we take consolation in the thought that he or she is finally “safe in God’s arms.” But what does it mean to be safe in God’s arms? What makes it so certain that we will be safe in God’s arms in spite of so much evil present in us? What happens to us if we fail to maintain good relationships with people around us, and our behaviour and attitude are evil and selfish at the time of our death? On this Sunday of the Divine Mercy, it is worth reflecting on how God’s love and mercy work when there is so much imperfection, sin, and selfishness with in us.
The afterlife is something beyond our imagination and so it is risky to use images from this life to try to understand it. Well-known Catholic theologian and professor, Father Ron Rolheiser, provides a beautiful imagery to explain the concept of life after death.
Young kids are sometimes obstinate with their demands and run into throes of tantrum. A child may be angry, sobbing, kicking, stubborn, resistant to every effort to be consoled. But when the mother picks up the child, it would continue to kick and scream and fight the mother, trying to push away from her, but the mother never gives up.
She understands the child and calmly, though firmly, continues to hold the child and to press the child to her breast. She patiently struggles until her baby is calm. The child continues to cry, but now the tears are different. They are no longer the tears of anger and resistance. The child turns quiet and at peace. It is safe in its mother’s arms.
The child grows into adult, but before God we continue to be children with all the infantile tantrums. Our pride, immaturities, prejudices, angers, sin, and petty selfishness are our kicking resistance to the love of God. God, like any good mother, understands these for what they are and, like any good mother, knows too what to do.
He picks us up and, despite our kicking and resistance, holds us safely in his arms. God knows that we are suffering from the immaturity and selfishness of a child and that our resistance will be short-lived. Once in the bosom of loving God, we will cease kicking against love and we will let ourselves be held by the love of God—in will and in true freedom. We will be safely in God’s arms, finally in the land of the living. Hence, Mercy Sunday reassures us of the promise of the consoling bosom of God where we are not afraid, even of death. Jose