As I write, wildfires are devastating the mountain and foothill regions outside of Los Angeles, as fires are burning elsewhere in California and other states in the west.
I’ve been praying for the families that have been displaced, for those who have been killed and injured, and those who have lost their homes and livelihoods, as well as for emergency workers and everyone in harm’s way.
Also, I’m praying for the two sheriff’s deputies who were victims of a cruel and senseless shooting on Saturday night in Compton. The attack is a tragic reminder of the violence and social unrest that has gripped our cities this summer and our need to come together as a society to address issues of racial injustice in our communities.
And still we are dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus. In some parts of the world, we are seeing the first signs of famine emerging. Here at home we are dealing with the effects of the economic and social lockdown that has kept businesses, schools, and churches closed for six months now.
This has been a troubling year, for all of us, so many people suffering from the pandemic, the fires, the uncertainty in our economy, in public life.
Our faith is being tested. And we are asking ourselves: Where do we place our trust? What do we value, what is important in our lives?
Over and above the sickness and dying, all the disruptions to our way of life, the coronavirus has introduced a widespread anxiety and “dis-ease” — all the insecurity and anxiety that we feel, not knowing when this pandemic will end or how, or what our lives and our world will look like when it’s finally over.
But there is one thing we can always be certain of, and that is the love that Jesus Christ has for us on the cross, the meaning of the feast we celebrated this week, the Exaltation of the Cross.
The cross shows us that we are loved beyond all telling, that we will never be abandoned, never forsaken.
Out of love, Christ was sent into this world as a servant and he gave everything for the life of the world. He suffered in his body every evil and injustice we could ever imagine. And he did this so that suffering and death will never again have the last word in our earthly existence.
If God has allowed these long months of trial, perhaps it is to renew our faith in his Providence and our determination to depend totally on his love.
God has a plan for creation. We know that. Even though sometimes it is difficult for us to see it, or to understand the meaning. This is especially true that we have to trust in God’s plan in times of suffering or sickness.
But we need to trust that he is in charge of history and our own lives. And we also have to carry out God’s plan, and try to conform ourselves to God’s will for our lives.
The cross shows us that we never carry our own crosses alone. We are walking with Jesus. We are carrying our cross with him. And we are all following Jesus together, walking with one another in the Church, with our brothers and sisters.
Not one of us can make it through this journey of life alone. If we have learned anything in these times of pandemic, it is that we need to rely on God and keep growing closer to the people in our lives, to strengthen our bonds of mutual friendship and love.
That means we need to take care of another, we need to pay attention to the needs of the people around us. Not just their material needs, but their spiritual needs, too.
We must emerge from this pandemic with a renewed trust in God and also a new awareness of our responsibility to serve our brothers and sisters in their weakness and poverty, in their struggles against every injustice and offense to human dignity.
Pray for me this week, and I will pray for you. And in this moment where there is so much confusion and pain in our world and in our society, let us try to enter more deeply into the mystery of Our Lord’s love for us, which we see in his sacrifice on the cross.
In his cross, we find peace and confidence in God and the answer to the problems of suffering in our world and in our own lives.
And as we also celebrated this week the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, let us ask her to intercede for all who are suffering and bring an end to this pandemic.