Father Tochi Iwuji
Parochial Vicar at Saint Bridget Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia
The pandemic has given me a chance to reflect deeply on God, life and what matters. With technology and scientific advancements, the pandemic seems to shake the whole world. There are a few things I have come to realize: God alone suffices; nothing is certain except God, and the common yearning of all humanity at this time is survival. With these in mind, we are invited at this time to rediscover how to be a neighbor to those we encounter and those who encounter us. But the question becomes how can we encounter people when there are policies that tend to make it hard for human interaction.
Friends, my hope is that during this pandemic we all realize the necessity of human relationships and interaction. My hope is that the enlightenment gained will prepare all of us to reevaluate our zeal and the ways we minister to people who come to us for hope and light. There are two statements of Jesus in the gospels that must always and ever be kept in sight, to reflect and to act on. First, “whatever you did to the least of these, that’s what you did unto me” (Matt. 25:40). And secondly, “I am going away, and the world won’t see me anymore, but you will, because you know me” (John 4:19). Friends, we are all bearers of God’s letter of hope, light, joy, mercy, forgiveness, comfort, but above all unconditional love. The test of our faith in God and a witness of our ministry is how we make that intentional choice to be neighbors to people we minister to through Commonwealth Catholic Charities.
Friends, let our ministry to people be a lifestyle; one of God’s providence and benevolence, a lifestyle of hope and joy. We might wonder how possible this lifestyle could be, it is possible but not easy. It is possible because the Holy Spirit lives in us and not easy because we are still human and living in an imperfect world. The grace of God is available and sufficient for us to begin somehow and somewhere. It can be as simple as making a choice; the choice not to lie or to deceive others in order to raise yourself, to not use anger as a control or defense mechanism, and not to pick and chose which Christian value to support or oppose. Above all, our choice is that we may all let love lead all of our relationships and interactions, these ways, we become neighbors to everyone who cross our paths in this pandemic and beyond. God bless you.