It sure has been a rough spring. COVID-19 has shaken so many communities and families to the core, and revealed probably more than we are ready to digest about our personal, communal, and spiritual failures. At the same time it gives us opportunities, both obvious and hidden, to love.
In our community at Martha’s Choice Marketplace, we’ve been overwhelmed at the outpouring of love from volunteers, neighbors and supporters who have been with us for forever, as well as those who are new to our community, and standing up to help at this critical time.
Every act of love, however small, carries the eternal love of God to our neighbors. Because of the support of so many, we are safely getting abundant packages of food to nearly triple our typical volume of families.
The devastation of the virus is revealing the suffering and injustice that is the byproduct of our collective brokenness. We can’t change all that at once. But we can allow Christ to enter our hearts in a way that can begin to heal some of the brokenness these weeks have revealed.
The crisis has robbed so many of their jobs, health care, food and overall security. It is not at first glance the ideal moment for reflection and the undoing of the things that keep out the grace of God’s mercy. In fact, in a time like this, it is easy to slip into the comfort of those things that offer the world’s security. Our hurts, addictions and distractions mask the uncomfortable truths about where so much of our security comes from.
In response to the uncertainty around us, it’s easy to let ourselves first be hurt or angry. When we let fear and frustration live on the surface of our hearts, we miss the chance to live in the giving and receiving of God’s love. We miss the chance to be first, loved. We can’t embrace God’s bottomless divine mercy, busy with hearts crusted with the illusions of security that brought us to this point.
The disasters around us are too big to face with our old “go to” arguments and comforts. In fact, the disasters around us reveal how empty and useless so many of our things and defenses are. In the end there is only the love of God that is steeped in all of creation. We can miss his love, or we can choose to live humbly, and with awe, in its miraculousness, with the doors of our hearts unhinged in welcome to God’s transformative indwelling.
Though it makes us uncomfortable, the answers to the challenges we face lie in a radical new openness to God, and a radical letting go of the way our autopilots tend to lead us. Our “autopilots” will lead us shallowly into ourselves. Being loved by God will lead us deeply into divine communion with our neighbors and with God.
God is gathering creation to himself. In this moment more than ever, the clarity of living in the love of God, guarded only by his eternal promise of mercy, leads us to radical solidarity. He offers us the consolation and courage of the Holy Spirit.
God is with you.
Patrick Walsh manages Martha’s Choice Marketplace, a choice model food pantry at Catholic Social Services’ Montgomery County Family Service Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Martha’s Choice, a beneficiary of the Catholic Charities Appeal, can be found at www.marthaschoicemarketplace.com.
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