“As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
If the New Commandment given by Jesus to all believers were a “Looking Glass,” what would we see gazing backwards in time upon the Church, towards the visible onset of the pandemic in early 2020? Would we recognize the One who gave us the Commandment to love one another? Would we recognize Him in the midst of His people, teaching and ministering to an oppressed flock who were weighed down by fear and sickness? Would we hear the words “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another”? And if we heard these words, what did we see? Would we witness the healing power and love of the Holy Spirit at work as when Jesus responded to the disciples of John the Baptist: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see” (Mathew 11:4)?
“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Mathew 11:5-6)
And those prophetic words of Our Lord, concerning all of us who are called to profess and exercise authentic Faith in Him – did the World acknowledge their reality?
“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35)
I fear the “Looking Glass” may either shatter or the one gazing into it be struck blind by sorrow. Quite possibly both.
I use these passages from Scripture to try and understand, given events that have unfolded the past three years, the lived response of the Catholic Church first and foremost amongst its own. The religious hierarchy, Catholic institutions and all the faithful. Have we loved one another? Has the New Commandment of Jesus been fulfilled? Can the World now say with greater conviction: “We can see you are indeed His disciples”?
If you were looking through the lens of global secular institutions like the U.N., WHO, sovereign governments, health agencies, pharma and media, it appeared that the Catholic Church had indeed succeeded. The global secular institutions said that all should get vaccinated as a duty towards our neighbor, as an act of charity. The See of Peter (it must be pointed out almost all leaders of other Christian denominations as well) said the same, in a new abridgement to the Lord’s Commandment – “Vaccinate to love one another.”
To summarize the words of Pope Francis:
“Being vaccinated with vaccines authorized by the competent authorities is an act of love. Contributing to ensure the-majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people”. (Pope Francis – Vaccines are an act of love to save us – Vatican News August 2022)