“The Lord is risen!” This is our cry during the 50 days of Easter. We celebrate life with joy: our present historical life and life eternal.
As we celebrate like Easter people, we know with confidence that death does not have the last word. In rising Jesus from the dead, God conquers death. Indeed, death does not defines us; life does!
Every year during Easter, Catholics have a new opportunity to celebrate the gift of life while contemplating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “The Lord is risen,” we proclaim. In contemplating his resurrection, we look forward to our own.
This particular year we find ourselves into the second year of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This is the second Easter when the celebration of life happens amid the conditions created by a virus that has affected everyone on our planet.
Millions of people have died worldwide because of the virus. Millions more mourn our loved ones who died and miss them dearly. Countless people of all ages will live the rest of their existences with the wounds of an illness that caught our world by surprise.
This year, however, things are different. A miracle has happened. Not as powerful and decisive as the miracle of the resurrection, yet a miracle. The scientific community has developed a cadre of vaccines that have the ability to bring the COVID-19 virus under some control.
Science placed at the service of life and the common good can prevent people from dying prematurely. When modern medicine mesmerizes us in addressing a major threat to human existence, we stand in awe. And awe is an invitation into the greatness of the divine.
The next question is, what do we do with the miracle? This applies to the miracle of the resurrection and the lesser miracle of the development of a series of vaccines to protect human life at this historical moment when we are confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic.
God’s salvation in Jesus Christ is a gift, yet it must be embraced. God wants us to make the gift our own. What drives the church’s evangelizing thrust in history is the conviction that we want people to have a profound experience with the risen Christ and embrace the gift of salvation.
There is something analogous about the gift of vaccines that protect our lives, the lives of those we love and the life of every other human being. We have them there, but we must receive them.
After more than a year in the current pandemic, we know that death is a real possibility because of the virus. This is neither a game nor a drill. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine — or not — can make the difference between living and dying; seeing others live or die.
Pardon me if I sound somewhat dramatic. However, I am concerned that many people in our society, and particularly in our own Catholic communities, seem to downplay the importance of vaccination during the present pandemic. Many reject vaccination altogether.
There is far too much misinformation. Too many conspiracy theories. Too much fearmongering. The antidote to all of this is good information and good pastoral outreach. The Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and nearly all credible Catholic organizations have endorsed COVID-19 vaccination as morally acceptable and a priority to protect life and the common good.
If we care about life, we have a responsibility to do what is possible to protect it. Our discernment must involve more than our personal views. In the spirit of Easter, as we contemplate the risen Lord, allow me a simple invitation: Arise, receive the vaccine, save lives.
Hosffman Ospino is professor of theology and religious education at Boston College.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103