The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, has followed the government’s rules and those issued by the Bishops of England and Wales and for many weeks, I felt they were doing the right thing. More recently I’ve started to question this ‘obedience’ to secular authorities. Our Church has re-opened with no-one allowed to socialise, everyone wearing face coverings, no music or singing and greatly reduced numbers. I’m still following a streamed service each Sunday from Archbishop Cushley in Edinburgh.
Yesterday, the government admitted that Covid-19 deaths had been overstated. In one example, a person was tested in March and found to be positive for the virus. Some weeks later, they were killed in a road traffic collisions. The cause of death was recorded as Covid-19.
The language used by government throughout has spread fear. Only today, Greater Manchester has declared a ‘major incident’ because positive Covid-19 tests are on the increase. Major incident usually involves something where there are multiple casualties, for example in a motorway pile-up or terrorist incident.
It seems to me now that the Church should start to trust in Jesus who repeatedly said, ‘do not be afraid’ and ‘peace be with you’. During the storm on the sea, he slept, unafraid. In our Gospel reading at Mass today, in an episode shortly after John the Baptist’s execution by the secular authorities, the disciples wanted to send the people away to buy food. Jesus responded, ‘Feed them yourselves.’ I wonder what the disciples said behind his back when facing 5,000 men plus their wives and children with just 5 loaves and two fishes!
Today, we need to discern what Jesus is telling us. That takes prayer and discernment. Then we should act. If we are called to defy the secular authorities, Jesus will provide the protection we need. But remember Peter spent time in a prison cell, so be prepared!