There are no signs of the pandemic loosening its grip soon. In fact, the infection is spreading relentlessly and fatalities are mounting increasingly. In addition to the widespread uncertainty, anxiety and pain, the pandemic also revealed an ugly side - the systemic injustice. As the rich and the powerful somehow wade through the crisis with minimum inconvenience, the poor, especially, the migrant labourers, are still languishing on the roads.
In the midst of the lock-down due to Covid 19 we celebrated the feast of Pentecost. Pentecost celebrates the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise of the helper, the Holy Spirit. Pentecost celebrates the culmination of the paschal mystery. Pentecost celebrates the foundation of the Church.
The context of the Pentecost is similar to that of the Covid 19. The Acts of the Apostles notes that the apostles were huddled in the upper room. It means they were frightened. They were immersed in their insecurity and hence were inactive. When the Holy Spirit came upon them in the form of fire, they became transformed men. They came out. They confidently proclaimed Jesus Christ. They bore witness to Him. Through worship, words and works they comforted and healed people and hence laid the foundation for the nascent Church.
When the pandemic hit us hard and the uncertainty prevailed all around, all, including us, were huddled in the upper room. Then there was a sudden spurt of life. Many corona warriors ventured out to help the suffering. Instead of uttering platitudes, these unknown and unsung heroes, in and through their concrete deeds, proclaimed that the tragic circumstance, illness and death are not final but love is.
I am happy to note that we too became spirited persons during the pandemic. Joining hands with many people of good will and also with the government and non-government agencies, we organized relief work, conducted awareness programmes, offered counselling service, uploaded inspirational videos, and now, as most of the migrants have gone home, we are taking a survey so that we may serve them better. The beauty of our work is that we did not own the mission. We collaborated with people of good will.
Many say that the virus has come to stay, and that we have to learn to live with it. It implies that we take care of our health. However, our well-being largely depends on the well-being of others. And so, once again we are brought back to our mission as Jesuits: reconciliation and justice. In other words, Christ’s resurrectional gift of Shalom! Hence, as the new academic year commences, let us work hard for shalom, so that all may be healthy and happy, harmonious and holy.