ROSARIO, Argentina – As the world continues to focus on how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis is beginning to think about how to “resurrect” humanity when it’s all over, saying he hopes people will have the “necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity.”
“If we act as one people, even in the face of the other epidemics that lie waiting for us, we can have a real impact,” Francis wrote. Among the things that can be changed, he included acting responsibly against hunger, so that no one dies of starvation when there’s enough food to feed everyone.
“Will we continue to look the other way with complicit silence in the face of those wars fueled by desires for dominance and power?” Francis asked. “Are we willing to change the lifestyles that plunge so many into poverty, promoting and encouraging us to lead a more austere and humane life that enables an equitable distribution of resources? Will we adopt, as an international community, the necessary measures to stop the devastation of the environment or will we continue denying the evidence?”
“The globalization of indifference will continue to threaten and tempt our journey … Hopefully it will find us with the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity,” Francis wrote.
The pope’s words were published April 17 by Spanish magazine Vida Nueva in a meditation titled “Un plan para resucitar” which translates as “A plan to resurrect.” Much of the text is a meditation on the women who went to the tomb of Christ after the resurrection and had their sorrow turned into joy upon witnessing Christ’s victory over death.
According to the pope, Christians are called to be joyful witnesses of that victory, even today amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the essay, Francis acknowledges that an invitation to be joyful nowadays “may seem like a provocation or a bad joke in front of the grave consequences we are suffering due to COVID-19.”
“Like the first women disciples who went to the tomb, we live surrounded by an atmosphere of sorrow and uncertainty that makes us wonder: ‘Who will move the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?’ How will we deal with this situation that has completely overtaken us?” Francis asked.
In today’s precarious era, the pope said, the stone in front of the tomb symbolizes the worry and anguish that “buries hope,” especially for the elderly, disabled people, families struggling financially, as well as health care workers and public servants who feel “exhausted and overwhelmed.”
The weight of that stone, he added, “seems to have the last word.” That stone today represents the heaviness of the anguish of vulnerable people and the elderly who are completely alone during this quarantine. It represents the heaviness of the families that can no longer put food on their tables and that of the health personnel who are exhausted. That heaviness, he insisted, “seems to have the last word.”
Yet, Francis argued, it doesn’t. With Christ’s passion and that of “our brothers and sisters, even living our own passion, our ears will hear the newness of the Resurrection: we are not alone, the Lord precedes us on our journey by removing the stones that paralyze us.”
“If there’s one thing we’ve been able to learn in all this time, it’s that no one is saved alone,” Francis argued. “Borders are falling, walls are crumbling and all fundamentalist discourses are dissolving before an almost imperceptible presence that shows the fragility of which we are made.”
Francis also noted that the women disciples didn’t allow themselves to be paralyzed by what was happening, despite the fear they had and the suffering they were going through. They still went to the tomb carrying spices and oils to anoint Jesus’s body even when many of the apostles had fled.
This attitude, the pope said, resembles that of many women and men who today try to bring “the ointment of co-responsibility to care for and not risk the lives of others.”
“We saw the anointing poured out by doctors, nurses, warehouse workers, cleaners, caretakers, transporters, security forces, volunteers, priests, nuns, grandparents and educators and so many others who were encouraged to give everything they had to bring a little healing, calm and soul to the situation,” he wrote.
Francis also wrote that the only way to conquer the coronavirus pandemic is through “the antibodies of solidarity.” This lesson “will break all the fanaticism in which we had immersed ourselves and will allow us to feel ourselves to be the creators and protagonists of a common history and, thus, to respond jointly to so many ills that afflict millions of brothers around the world.”
The pope also argued that the coronavirus crisis has shown the need to unite the entire human family, in the knowledge that what’s done in service of others, “our giving, our vigilance and accompanying in all possible ways” will not “be in vain.”
“We cannot afford to write the present and future history with our backs turned to the suffering of so many,” the pope wrote. “It is the Lord who will ask us again, ‘Where is your brother?’ and, in our ability to respond, may the soul of our peoples be revealed, that reservoir of hope, faith and charity in which we were begotten and which, for so long, we have anaesthetized or silenced.”
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma