By Canon Gerry Conroy
It is undoubtedly true that this pandemic has introduced into the lives of many people fear and apprehension about the whole situation. On the other hand there are those for whom the whole situation has passed by as little more than an annoyance to their usual habits in life and are determined not to let it affect them in any way. Fear is not on their agenda. Most sensible people, I suspect, would think of this latter group as at times irresponsible if not downright stupid.
When it comes to faith we also find similarly two kinds of people, those who believe and those who don’t – those who have a fear of God and those who don’t or as Christ said in the Gospel, those who think God’s way and those who think man’s way.
St Peter, having professed his faith in Jesus as Son of God and received the power of the Keys of the Kingdom, might have congratulated himself on having finally arrived, only to find that there was more to this faith thing than there seemed: It isn’t enough to know something, you must also live it, as St Paul said our behaviour must change, modelled on our new mind.
This pandemic challenges us; it has forced changes on how we go about our life, perhaps even made us ask about the purpose of our life and where we will find a meaning for it. The fear, the confusion that has forced this upon us is necessary because without it we would never stop and ask the question, we would simply continue on our normal way ignoring the warning signs around us that are telling us to stop our thoughtless behaviour. The cross also seeks to confront us with questions about our life, questions Christ explained explicitly to his disciples in the Gospel that was just read.
Whether or not they understood what they heard could be asked also of us. For the disciples, there were another two occasions Christ spoke about his death and resurrection and they didn’t seem inclined to change their way of life because of it, even with the crucifixion itself they seemed disinclined to stand with Christ as he hung on the cross.
The cross and the resurrection of Christ redefine everything; all our life’s possibilities are changed and that is something we find hard to understand, something we may even fear – a bit like this pandemic challenges how we go about our life.
We can either try to go on as before or embrace the changes and go forward with these new parameters in life. The new parameters for life given us by the death and resurrection of Christ.
Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton