Out of love, keep the commandments

Where, in your small household parish community, do you hear the Word of God? Many of us have picked up the Bible more than ever before. We participate online to share livestreamed Masses and use sites that offer daily Scripture readings and reflections. This time of quarantine has provided an opportunity to read a spiritual book or two. Amazingly, these days, the Word of God is also being heralded to all of us from a most unlikely place: Television commercials.

Television advertising is attempting to make a switch from consumerism to community. They are calling from us all to that which is kind, good and holy.

We are being given messages like “Never stop dreaming,” “Put more care in the world,” “When that day comes, we will emerge our best selves,” “Not for profit for people” and “In times of crisis, the church spreads hope.”

Commercials are reminding us of what we have taken for granted: giving hugs, holding a hand or being out among other people. The commercials remind us that we are one world, regardless of race or creed, and we need to be generous, create stronger family bonds and appreciate the people who are essential workers.

The Scriptures always contain just the word that God needs us to hear for our time. This Sunday, the Acts of the Apostles tells us that, when people heed the Word of God, great and holy things happen: unclean spirits come out and those with illness are healed. We seek to embrace God’s word with the desire that the unclean spirt of Covid-19 to be brought under control.

Bishop David Ricken reflected our feelings in a prayer he recently wrote. With the boldness of the early disciples, he prayed in part “… you Covid-1 9… are hereby disabled, discharged and defeated, in the Holy Name of Jesus, by his most precious blood, by the overflowing mercy of God’s love and by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In the Second Reading, Peter’s letter tells us it is noble to be willing to suffer for the sake of hope. It pains us to be physically separated from family and friends right now. We are disappointed in missing many of the social activities we enjoyed in summers past. Yet God’s word tells us that, by accepting these discomforts for the sake of good, we also live in hope. Television commercials remind us to wear a mask when we are in public. Many Catholics wear a cross indicating we “sanctify Christ as Lord in (our) hearts.” Perhaps wearing a mask can be considered a new “sacramental” that shows we care for all of God’s people.

Lastly, John’s Gospel proclaims to us that, out of love, we are to keep the commandments. It is out of love for all humanity that we are asked to abide by the regulations surrounding Covid-19.

Hearing the Word of God, however it is proclaimed, brings us the grace we need to be Gospel people who can extend love, care and compassion to one another.

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.