Two days before the start of this New Year, Christian Church leaders issued a message to citizens. Their message of December 30, 2021 was reported in the media and was quickly forgotten. After all, the message came a mere 48 hours before the nation would usher in 2022 and many yearned to put aside the turmoil of 2021.
In the face of more than, at that time, two thousand citizens dying and their families unable to properly grieve their loss, the Christian leaders prayed for hope.
“Optimism believes that things will get better,” the leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Church, Moravian Church, Presbyterian Church, Roman Catholic Church and Trinidad and Tobago Council of Evangelical Churches wrote.
“Hope believes that even if things get worse, we know the one in whom we trust and we believe that He is with us and that He will lead, guide and protect us against whatever comes our way. We ask you, as we enter 2022, to become a person of hope. Hope is believing the promises of God even when all evidence is against it (Rom 4:18ff).”
Why a message of hope at this time? Perhaps the leaders perceive a feeling of despair among citizens as this Covid-19 seems to be going nowhere fast; the world is facing a Sisyphean task of trying to get ahead of the virus and its variants.
For the past two years, international leaders have challenged their people to think of the other, to use the free will given to humanity by God to serve the common good.
The problem is one of our weaknesses as humans is often we think only of self. We see it on our roads with impatient drivers driving in the filter lanes to bypass a traffic light.
During this pandemic, we see it in those who still today ‘come up way too close’ instead of social distancing, or wear their masks improperly just beneath their noses or under their chins. And what’s worse, people exhibiting flu-like symptoms still foolishly deciding to mingle instead of staying put at home.
Archbishop Jason Gordon, a signatory of the message, has often preached in his homilies that people are irresponsible and think only of the ‘I’ rather than the ‘we’.
There is also a lack of trust. Many who have resisted taking the jab have argued, even to their dying breath, that they do not trust the authorities, the doctors and nurses fighting to save their lives – they do not trust the science.
We all need to learn to trust. A newborn learns to trust knowing that when it cries out, mom, dad or some carer will be there to feed, soothe and comfort. A passenger learns to trust in the skill, experience, and training of the pilot, likewise the pilot must trust the mechanics tasked with maintaining the airplane know what they are doing to ensure the safety of all on board.
This doesn’t mean asking the ‘whys’ or ‘why nots’ is wrong.
Today, trust is needed if we are to get out of this pandemic. That type of trust is modelled by the servants at the wedding feast in Cana. This Sunday’s gospel simply says Mary was there and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited. “When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ ….His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Mary trusted Jesus.
The servants were instructed to fill six stone water jars, each holding 20 or 30 gallons. “Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water,’ and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now,’ he told them, ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this…”
It’s not implausible to consider the servants thinking to themselves ‘Why?’ or ‘What level of madness is this? It’s water…’ Yet, they followed the instructions, and the first miracle was performed.
It’s human to question things. We learn much by asking questions. But there’s a time and a place for everything.
This pandemic that has killed more than five million worldwide has proven that questioning everything and inaction instead of trusting the health experts, scientists, researchers, and doctors, will get us nowhere.