By Canon Gerry Conroy

It’s getting to the stage in this ongoing crisis that even for the most positive of us, this whole situation has lost any sense of direction. We just don’t know what is going to happen next and you get the sense that no one is quite sure what is the best way forward. In waiting for a vaccine we are like those virgins in the Gospel waiting for the bridegroom to appear, not exactly sure when that will be, and to be honest I’m not sure which of us is a wise virgin and which a foolish one. The vaccine seems to be the one hope to get us out of this situation and in the meantime we just have to wait and I suppose act in an intelligent manner – perhaps that is the oil the wise virgins had a plentiful supply of. 

Sometimes though intelligence seems in short supply when you hear of what people are doing. But then I suppose our actions have never been guided solely by what our intelligence – or lack of it – has told us we should be doing. When it comes down to the motives of human behaviour, what we know is the thing we should do and what we actually do don’t always coincide. 

There are times when people just want to run wild and free and forget about the consequences, and that is happening just now with dangerous consequences for everyone, and there are times when we know the rational and sensible approach we need to take and we take it, which seems doubly sensible in these times. Maybe it comes down to freedom, when we feel our freedoms are too restricted we react sometimes unthinkingly just to get that sense of freedom. Perhaps though we need to take a closer look at what it means to be free, because freedom doesn’t always mean letting our emotions or feelings alone decide what we should do. Sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture and see how our feelings or emotions can harm us. That’s what we tell children all the time. It’s a hard lesson to learn; hard choices to make. We have to have a clear vision of why we are going to make those choices and of the freedom that we hope to get. Often we just have to take that vision on trust, like just now, or with faith. 

With faith, the vision, the freedom we look towards is one that is promised to us when Christ returns to finish off what he started and bring us eternal life. For the present our life is lived largely in hope, patience and in perseverance, a bit like waiting for the vaccine. With faith, though we have already tasted something of what we look forward to, something of what it means to be fully alive and free. We have tasted that in our encounter with Christ. We all know the Bridegroom we await and that gives our hope some solidity.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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