And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
Is Jesus Christ an opponent of social-distancing?
The Gospel text at the head of this article might lead you to think so. But no, we can be certain that Our Lord supports us in our effort to follow the direction given by our government leaders and the best advice of the medical community. Catholics can and should support appropriate social distancing during this COVID-19 crisis.
Yet Catholics are uniquely prepared to understand both the deep suffering brought by such social distance and the unique antidote to its poison. That antidote is the Cross of Jesus Christ.
These issues are all the more acute right now, when the clergy and faithful in many places are learning that the most solemn liturgies of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum cannot be celebrated publicly this year. Necessary as such a suspension undoubtedly is, it still adds greatly to the pain of isolation already felt by countless people.
Why does social distancing bring such profound suffering? Because it strikes at the very root and purpose of our human nature. We have been designed, empowered and called by God to live in communion with Him and with one another. Communion is deep spiritual union, and shares the same root as words like “community” and “communal.”
“Religion” is another word with the same meaning. It comes from the Latin word religare, which means “to bind.” Our religion is entirely about becoming bound to God in Christ. And it is about being bound to one another as members of Christ’s Body, the Church. The meaning of the Eucharist, given to the faithful as holy Communion, is precisely this unity with Christ and with each other.
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