Every Day Is Commencement Day
COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us and there are things about it, as there are about many things in our lives, that we may never understand. But I keep reminding myself, and others, that God does things – even just allows things we find puzzling – for a purpose. He intends some good, probably many goods, to come out even from something as mysterious as a global pandemic.
So, the question arises: Why all that for us just now? Lots of people these days think that diseases are just part of the way things are. Or, even worse, that they are somehow our fault for alleged “sins against nature.”
But pandemics and plagues have also, at different times in history, been related to the divine. If you have been to Rome, you have doubtless seen the statue of the Archangel Michael on top of Castel Sant’Angelo. In 590, Pope Gregory the Great, according to later legends, saw him sheathing his sword on top of the castle, a sign that – after many prayers and processions through the streets of Rome – the plague, which had been devastating the city and all of Europe, was coming to an end.
Whatever the truth of the legend, we know plainly from Scripture that such phenomena can, oddly, be a means of healing. God’s chastisements are not capricious or vindictive, but medicinal. The Tower of Babel was destroyed, and the people became divided in their speech, as a remedy for hubris, their arrogant belief that they could reach heaven, all on their own – the usual human temptation to think that we can become God, an illusion, that never goes away.