Our finest hour

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    THE DOH expects everyone to be gripped with crippling fear with its projected number of 70,000 COVID-19 patients in three months. Its spokesperson did not mince words and warned that at its peak, the coronavirus would bring that dreaded huge number of infected cases.This is based on the current DOH model for the spread of the deadly virus showing that cases are steadily going up, despite the massive medical intervention in Metro Manila.

    Ignorance, indifference and hardheadedness feed on this chilling trend. Indeed, the DOH and local officials earnestly hope that the warning will be strong enough to send chills down the spine and keep people indoors. Meanwhile, Marikina City Police chief Col. Restituto Arcanghel echoes the daily frustration of other police commanders who fear for the safety of their men.

    He told this columnist who complained about the daily group loiterers and videoke drunks in many barangays in Marikina: “Ganyan po ang maraming tao na hinaharap namin araw-araw at dahil diyan humaharap yung mga tao namin sa peligro na pwedeng isa sa mga sinasaway namin ay carrier ng COVID-19. Sometimes we ask ourselves if these people deserve the risk we are taking just to ensure their safety.”

    `I don’t want to ‘endure’ it. I want it to shape us.’

    Please allow me to share this heartwarming FB post written by the campus minister of the Illinois State University. “The mission is falling apart in the movie Apollo 13. With each piece of news they get, things feel like they’re spiraling. The control room is in chaos. The NASA Director walks up to Gene Kranz (flight director of Mission Control) and says, `This could be the worst disaster NASA has ever experienced.’ And Gene gives one of the greatest mic drop lines of all time. ‘With due respect, Sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.'” Of course, we knew what happened – on its aborted mission to the moon, Apollo 13 and its crew overcame nearly impossible odds to fix their wayward ship and got back safely to earth under the painstaking supervision of Mission Control. I myself must have watched this award-winning movie five times, and each time it had left me warmed and almost breathless.

    The campus minister goes on: “What we’re all experiencing right now is a galvanizing moment for a young generation. In 20 years, there will be a defining memory in their heads, a marker on their childhood, like the 9/11 was for others. Teens will learn lessons about how they handle anxiety and fear from watching the adults in their lives. We see lots of posts and reactions about people complaining and hoarding. We see people anxious about changing plans, with some calling it hype while others declare Armageddon. What if this whole episode is more like an inkblot test? What if the adversity itself is revealing what was already inside us?”

    You and I have the opportunity right now to decide whether we’re hoarders or givers, whether we’re complainers or inspirers, whether we live in fear or in hope. We can decide whether or not we spend this time selfishly, or whether we creatively find ways to give, serve and love the community. In short, maybe this pandemic gives us the opportunity to take a look inside and figure out something about ourselves, something we were too busy to notice three weeks ago. If you are a follower of Jesus, you know too well protecting the vulnerable (the sick, he poor, the widows) was one of the identifying acts for early Christians.The Church was known for it. This season isn’t about becoming an online church, It’s about creatively trying to love and serve the vulnerable around us. I want to be part of that kind of movement. I want that so much that I’ll risk exposure to this virus to do it.

    As a culture, there are many who are vulnerable. There are many who work hourly and their paycheck is temporarily gone, with no backup. There are many who are nervous to go the store because their age bracket exposes them to a much, much larger risk. There are ministries and missionaries whose entire lives depend on others’ generosity. There are families who depend on school for free lunches. If we bunker down and get selfish with our time and resources, what will happen to these folks? My kids are watching me. If our family is going to radically reorient our lives in the upcoming weeks, I don’t want to “endure” it, I want it to shape us. I want it to make a better family. I want it to make our ministry a better ministry. This could be a turning point for us, instead of an annoying detour.

    Some have labeled this pandemic a massive inconvenience. Some are saying this is all a product of media hype. Some are calling this a political farce. Others are crying out that this is our inevitable demise. With all due respect, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.

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