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"A Lenten approach to current events" by Marya Hayes (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pexels.com (2015), CC0/PD[/caption] Over the last several years, I have observed an ever-increasing amount of hate and mistreatment of others. What I have observed in the media is an ever increasing range of mistruths. The spin comes from the enemy. That enemy’s goal is to turn truth to lies, lies into hate, and hate into violence. This is the very ugly truth that surfaces when people are trying go gain power. This is especially true when that power includes a presidential election, health crisis, and other natural disasters. When there is power to be had, people look at all the opportunities to gain more control. So while one might point the finger at the President, the potential candidates, and the media, we have to look at the real culprit and realize the spiritual warfare at work.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)

Light dawns for the just, and gladness for the honest of heart. (Psalm 97:11)

So it may seem like fear is the natural response to the current uncertainties. We do not know who will be president, and we will have to wait until November 3, 2020 to find out the results. For many, fear can turn ugly. People can become consumed in a negative way by slamming others or trying to control the outcome by influencing others on social media or in person. People who are misinformed often spread mistruths accidentally. People also spread mistruths on purpose to incite more fear. Since the media isn’t doing a great job informing us with their spin, it is easy to fall into this fear trap. In addition, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spreading more than just a dangerous disease. It is spreading mistrust. We aren’t sure who has the latest and most accurate information. The traps that we can fall into are widespread. People from nations that have a higher percentage of the disease have been shunned. For example, in Hong Kong, there is a restaurant that will only serve food to those who speak Cantonese, and not to those who speak Mandarin (the language of Mainland China). While I am in agreement that people should be cautious to avoid the disease and it’s spread, we can do so without resorting to racism. While the coronavirus may have started in China, the parameters of where someone can be infected have already outgrown that nation's boundaries. Now that I have pointed out the potential traps we fall into, we can work to avoid them. Try not to stir the pot. Offer encouragement, and observe good healthy practices.

A Lenten response

How can we turn this into a Lenten opportunity? First of all, resist the urge to hoard. We have seen the lines at Costco, and we have seen the empty shelves at pharmacies and supermarkets. The products that we use for daily living seem to have disappeared, such as hand soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, water, and bleach. While I do believe in being prepared, do not be prepared to the extent that you cause many others to go without. This is selfish. When I went to CVS last night, the manager told me that someone had come late in the evening and bought all of their hand sanitizer. When he found this out, he put some aside behind the counter and rationed it to patrons. In addition, we can offer compassion, encouragement, and aid to those who are fearful. If your neighbor is out of toilet paper, give them a roll. If they are concerned about the presidential election, be mindful to pray for all those who are voting, and all those who are elected. Sometimes our God has us in seemingly extreme situations, to remind us that He is God, He is in control, and we need Him.

"But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile,go with him for two miles.Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust." (Matthew 5:39-45)

Now is a great time to put this Gospel into place. We have been warned that the rain will fall on the upright and wicked alike. We are in this together. Do your best to be informed with the truth, and offer your perspective with respect when prudent. In households where opinions do not align, it’s often a good idea to choose your highest priorities before trying to change minds. Heated debates may be good in certain forums, but there has been a rise in conflicts over politics within families with polarized ideals. As always, there are nonnegotiable values, and your loved ones are probably familiar with your stance by now. This may sound like an invitation to keep your mouth shut when you have strong beliefs, but it is not. The suggestion is to respectfully offer your perspective with prudence. Offer the facts, and try to keep your emotions in check. Offer truth with love, not anger. My personal suggestion is to try and detach yourself from outcomes. Since so much is at stake, it sounds like a near impossible task. You can only do your best, and then be satisfied with that, and God’s perfect will. Offer up all the suffering that comes with these uncertainties during Lent as a sacrifice that you do not choose but accept.
Copyright 2020 Marya Hayes