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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ramp up again, it is very easy for us to get discouraged and lose hope. We can become lost in the unending reports of death, sickness and hospitals filling with patients. There seems to be no end to this pandemic and the hopes gathered with the vaccine seem to be fading. It is an era that we are challenged to find hope and joy in new ways.

The Catholic tradition has always given us a path to follow in times of turmoil and trouble. We have been around for a very long time and have experienced many difficult events and circumstances. But the Church has always survived even the most catastrophic situations. And we will continue to do so in this era as well. Why? Because we have the sure and certain hope in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Last week in the gospel for our liturgical calendar, we reflected on the end of a long discourse by Jesus on “the Bread of Life.” Because of what Jesus said, many disciples left him. He turned to the apostles and asked, “Will you also leave?” And Peter, speaking for them all, said, “To who would we go, Lord. You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Son of God.”

Perhaps this is fortuitous to hear these words of Sacred Scripture in this time. We are facing a most difficult and problematic era in our history. This virus is mutating to counter the vaccines the scientific community has developed and we seem to be unable to stay ahead of it. Fear, doubt, anger and even neglect are adding to an atmosphere that presses down on us all. But as Christians, the followers of Jesus are not willing to give up. We believe (have trust) and are convinced (understand) that the Lord is with us in all situations and walks with us in this dark time as well.

So, what can we do?

First remind yourself of God’s goodness and find it in everyday things and events. Time reflecting on where God is in our lives can be a great strength for anyone. Second, because God is with us, you can trust him. I recall from the letter to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us” Third, God is always with us, remember always and in all ways. So always pray. Fourth, do something even a bible journey of ideas. Fifth, stay connected to other people in your life. This is vital. Do so with letters, phone calls, media, and every way you can think to do so. Sixth, don’t retreat into your fears, reach out to help someone else from your spouse to your children to your friends to total strangers. And last but not least, simply keep praying, especially for others. Keep the focus off ourselves.

Did you know that the phrase “fear not” is recorded in Scripture 365 times! One for each day. It is the phrase of Jesus spoken more often than any other. That is telling us believers something, I think. So, listen, pray, live well and believe. Then you will “be convinced” that Jesus is Lord unto your salvation.

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