Lent, Covid and lockdown

by Fr. Jim Fleming

As we enter the second season of Lent in our never-ending lockdown, Fr. Jim Fleming invites us to stop and to reflect on what it is all about and what effect it's having on us personally and collectively.

Image: Pixabay.com

The international rollout of the Covid vaccination is currently in full swing, especially in wealthier countries. Others are not as fortunate as they await an uncertain future wondering if their people will ever be protected. Ideally the entire world would be vaccinated before too long and those on the margins of society would all be included.

Covid is a cloud hanging over us, hovering ominously and ever present. It tests us to the core of our being. It is relentless, widespread and ever mutating. It affects every aspect of our lives, challenging us to be resilient, to be patient, to be hopeful, to be kind and generous to others. So-called ‘normal life’ is elusive as nothing can be planned, nothing taken for granted and there is – seemingly – nothing to look forward to. Meanwhile we keep our distance and refrain from physical gestures of holding, hugging, kissing or touching. We cannot even reveal our facial responses to outside stimuli whether it is a smile, frown or just a growl.

And so, as we enter the second season of Lent in our never-ending lockdown, we are invited to stop and to reflect on what it is all about – and what effect it’s having on us personally and collectively.

Like Jesus, we too have been led into the desert experience of Covid and lockdown where we have the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be stripped of our securities and comforts and where also we are brought face to face with both God and ourselves. This is where God can really speak to our hearts and reveal God’s will for us and for our world.

And so, Lent as well as Covid, in every country and in every situation, is a stretching time and a powerful reminder of the intrinsically challenging nature of our lives during these difficult times. Ultimately, we are people of faith – and what a wonderful gift this is, a gift that can make sense of a lot of what seems senseless in life.  We are also people of hope, people who believe that throughout any crisis in life, any period of darkness or abandonment, we can rise above it all and know that better times lie ahead when we will once again experience warmth and light, freedom and happiness.

And so we can say in the words of King David repeated in Acts 2: 25-28 ‘The Lord is near me, I will not be troubled. I am filled with gladness and full of joy. I will rest assured in hope’.