So much loss and devastation is happening right now in multiple aspects of our lives. In my parishioner reflection, I wanted to give a message of hope and faith in the midst of so much chaos in our country and in our world. As we approach Advent and Christmas, let us remember the reason for the season.
What a year this has been. Almost nothing has been normal since March of this year. We have watched major division in our country on so many vital issues, from politics, to how to handle the global pandemic that is COVID-19. As a country and a world we have all realized that this is the one moment that we are all truly “alone together.” As many of us have decided to turn to different outlets to protect and keep ourselves safe, for myself I have truly had to look to two words that are intertwined: faith and hope.
Many of us during this time have been trying to figure out ways to navigate some sense of normalcy. For myself, faith stepped in and took an even higher role. I had incorporated a practice of prayer every morning and every night, to make sure that I stayed centered and focused on God during this precarious time. My prayers and “talks with God” helped me navigate some extremely difficult moments with my own personal life as well. My newly adopted god mom who I live with is almost 90 years old can’t see or hear well, and also cannot cook. As I took care of her during this period, my faith strengthened and her faith was restored as she realized that there are some great young people who do still care. As I continued on the roller coaster of the pandemic, I had to constantly remind myself of what I had learned from a friend from Florida when I was in RCIA last year before my was confirmation. They told me: “When you look at the cross and you see Jesus, you realize that suffering is only part of the story. On the other side, things are better.” Another profound thought struck me in the midst of the pandemic: God is still in control.
Hope is something that I am a firm believer in, and understood even more in the midst of the chaos during the quarantine. The world continued to show us hope in people like Amy O’ Sullivan. A ER nurse who was infected with COVID-19, intubated, and put on a ventilator for four days early in the pandemic, but eventually came back to work to save more lives in NYC. I watched as more and more people across the country helped give out food and supplies to hungry and needy families as massive unemployment sank the American economy. I also had my hope restored as we watched our own St. Charles Borromeo step up to the plate. We had real conversations about race in America, and what social justice means for us as Catholics. We moved Catholic Charities food pantry to St. Charles Borromeo, becoming the host church for the distribution of food to the hungry. And finally, we set the standard by making sure we all came back to church safely by opening our closed doors after months of no services. Hope is still very much alive in our City, our community, and in our country.
So, as we move into the Advent and Christmas season, let us remember to keep both faith and hope alive. We have a new year upon us, where we can hopefully tackle this virus. New leadership in multiple places in our government where we can get fresh eyes and perspectives on vital issues affecting our country. Although we have lost loved ones and still mourn, we have weathered the storm and decided to move forward. I think about the quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt stating: “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.” Advent is a season of preparation and prayer for the birth of our savior: Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time of great joy, where we see the light of Christ come into this world and realize that there is hope even in our darkest hour. As Mary and Joseph had faith that God was leading them in the right direction, we have to have faith that God will lead us out of any situation that enters our lives; even with COVID-19. As we close out this year with many tumultuous events that have taken place, remember what Hebrews 11:1 states. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Let’s continue to have the same hope and faith today as Mary and Joseph did when God was leading them into unknown waters.
Tevin Williams is a member of the Young Professionals of St. Charles Borromeo, and a parishioner since July 2019.