The word apocalyptic brings to mind many scary images. From our exposure to movies and television dramas, when we hear that word, we think of explosions, warfare, and pestilence. The Greek word apocalypse means to pull back the veil and expose an illusionary reality. John, the author of the Book of Revelation, used the term apocalypse as an image to show the weakness of the Roman Empire. It was a sham before the power of the Kingdom preached by Jesus. John wanted to reveal that the power the Empire possessed was decadent in the face of the supremacy of God’s Kingdom.
Here in Chatham, we can find ourselves insulated from the worse effects of the coronavirus. Yes, businesses are closed, but many of them are seasonal ones whose openings are delayed several weeks. To many of us, the pandemic hasn’t affected us much. At worse, it may be causing a severe case of cabin fever and some social distancing. Here we have thankfully been spared a serious outbreak of the virus or many deaths. However, if we look beyond our somewhat insulated community, we see that the pandemic is causing an apocalypse in our world. The veil is pulled back, and we see we have been living an illusionary reality.
Over the last few weeks, we have experienced the veil covering so many social ills suddenly pulled back to reveal injustices and inequalities in our world. The existence of severe and ingrained racism in our country is evident as social unrest after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer has rocked many cities. This horrendous crime, yet again, reveals the lives of racial minorities are valued less than those of whites. Four hundred years after the introduction of black slavery into this country, we still have racism ingrained in our culture. It is a fact, and no one is immune to it.
An apocalypse has occurred in our health care system. The outbreak of the virus revealed a lack of resources committed to adequate health care for all. In places, hospitals were overwhelmed, and patients unable to receive appropriate care. The elderly, the poor, and minority groups were fearful that they would be denied care and become dispensable. Many laid-off workers have lost medical coverage and worry about becoming ill and not being able to afford medical care.
The veil hiding the inequitable distribution of wealth in our world is ripped in two by this pandemic. The chasm that exists between the rich and the poor is gaping. While some high paid corporate executives may make a gesture and take a salary cut, that is only a small portion of their compensation packages. Meanwhile, 40% of Americans with incomes below $40,000 have lost their jobs. While higher-income people can work from home, these people have jobs that can’t be done virtually, and they suffer unemployment.
The coronavirus has revealed so many of our society’s shortcomings. It has exposed societal ills that cry out for our attention. An apocalypse has occurred, and there is no hidden away from it any longer. Pope Francis has called on our world to confront all the pandemics infecting our society. He has summoned all people of goodwill to face not only the virus pandemic but the pandemics of hunger, war, contempt for life, and indifference to others.
We can try to stitch together the old veil that the coronavirus apocalypse has torn down the middle. That is fruitless. We can’t return to the pursuit of selfish success. We must confront reality and set about curing our ills. We have an opportunity to create a new reality for our world. It is a rare chance. Now is our opportunity to care about those suffering and in danger of being left behind. Now is our chance to take up the cause of all those who feel oppressed and fight to protect them. Now is the opportunity to give the disenfranchised the dignity all humankind richly deserves. Now is the time to help make God’s Kingdom come.
Now More Than Ever
With our world struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and our country with racial and social ills, it has become evident our world needs a healthy Church to share the Good News of justice and righteousness preached by Jesus. The Catholic Church here in our Diocese of Fall River must be strong enough to meet the pastoral and charitable needs of our day. For the last 79 years, the faithful of our diocese have responded by donating to the Catholic Appeal. This annual fund-drive helps support charitable agencies such as homeless shelters, social service agencies, and hospital ministry. No less importantly, it supports pastoral services like education for seminarians and the Permanent Deaconate, the Spanish Apostolate, and the Office of Family Ministry. Recently, the topic “prayer” has been the most frequently googled topic on the internet. In these tumultuous times, people are reaching out for solace through a relationship with God. Our diocese needs generous support from every one of us to assemble the resources required to meet the urgent demands of today.
The 2020 Catholic Appeal of the Diocese of Fall River began on June 1, 2020, and will continue until July 31, 2020. The pandemic pushed back by a month the usual May 1, starting date but made the need for the Appeal even greater this year. Parishioners recently received a Catholic Appeal letter from Bishop Da Cunha. Please prayerfully consider your generous donation to the 79th Catholic Appeal. With many people left unemployed, it is vital that we who can still count on a steady income be more generous this year. You can donate by returning your pledge card with a check payable to the “Catholic Appeal” to the Appeal Office in the envelope enclosed with your mailing. You can charge your donation to your credit card, and if your employer matches your charitable gifts, please contact them and ask them to do that for your contribution to the Appeal. We would like to increase our parish gift by 5% this year. That would be a total gift of $47,000 from Holy Redeemer Parishioners. In this troubled year of 2020, help give our local Church of Fall River, the resources it needs to respond in love and charity.