By Staying Away From Each Other, We Love Each Other
March 2020 · Ministry News
“Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
I had the best plans for this Lenten season both personally and for my parish. The last few weeks have certainly upended those plans, and they have upended our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters here and around the world. I know that for my parish I thought we’d practice loving God by worshipping together more often – and yes, we’re still doing that – even doing more of it, just via the wonders of technology rather than in person. I had things that I had given up, as I know many of you probably did as well, but little did we know what other things were in store for us to give up as well.
I think it is important – vital even for us to remember right now that all that we are being asked to do during this time of pandemic – we are being asked to do in love. We are being asked to practice loving our neighbor as ourselves in ways that we wouldn’t have imagined a month ago. By staying away from each other – even those we love most – our extended families – our church communities – our friends – we are loving them as Our Lord commanded. Even more though, by keeping to ourselves we are practicing love of people that we don’t even know – health care workers, first responders, and the many thousands our social distancing could possibly save. We are giving up our face to face contact with those that we love to save lives. But by all means – share your love through phone calls, text messages, social media, and any other way you can stay connected. Look out for your neighbors, give to organizations helping people, pray for all of us as we face this unprecedented time in our lives. This too is following our Lord’s commandment to love. It is not the Lent I intended to have.
It’s not the Lent any of us would have wished. But it is still very much a time that we can draw close to the Lord (if not each other), we can walk in the way of self-sacrifice for the good of others, and we can take up our own cross and follow Jesus. May God bless us and send his holy angels to protect us. Amen.
Fr. Chas Marks is a Senior Advisor for Community & Church Relations with The Saint Francis Foundation. He is also the Rector (Pastor) of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri.