When this coronavirus quarantine first started (was it nine or 10 years ago? I can’t remember), the objective, as I understand it, was to flatten the curve. We all stay home in our pajamas watching streaming television programs and working on puzzles that we’ve finished twice already, and the bell curve of new cases will flatten, thereby making it easier for medical professionals to do their job.
But is it working? Is the curve flattening? Admittedly, I avoid the news like the plague. Or I guess nowadays I should say like COVID-19. If I do watch the news, it’s only the last five minutes when I’m pretty sure they are only talking about funny things like grandmas crocheting masks for their parakeets. It’s all my heart can handle.
Maybe every night, Lester Holt is telling all of you who are brave enough to listen that staying home and watching our pedicures peel and trying to think of one more thing to make out of the 20 lbs. of ground beef in your freezer, that day by day, the curve is in fact flattening. Our boredom and loneliness are paying off.
Just throw me a bone — a dibble of good news. Are we flattening the curve?
On the first Sunday after Easter, the Catholic Mass always offers St. John’s gospel passage about poor old doubting Thomas. I love that gospel. I heard it twice this weekend because I watched two different Masses online — one offered by the pastor at our Denver parish of Risen Christ and the Mass offered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. Each of the celebrants offered a homily with his own personal take from the gospel. Every year, my take has focused on the fact that Jesus told Thomas (after he saw and felt the wounds) good on him that he now believed, but the real heroes are those who don’t happen to be able to put our fingers into the wound, but still believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Yay me, right?
But this year, I found myself thinking about another thing that Jesus said in that gospel. He enters the locked room where the disciples (minus Thomas) are hiding from their enemies and says, “Peace be with you.” And he doesn’t say it just once; he says it twice. And he says it again a week later when Thomas is present. “Peace be with you.”
In other words, no worries. Stop freaking out. I’ve got this. You’re safe. Which, of course, didn’t mean that there weren’t rough roads ahead for the brand new Christians. Catholic Christians believe that all of the apostles except John died as martyrs for their faith. So when Jesus greeted them with that beautiful phrase, he was suggesting that they believe that things are going to be okay at the end of the day.
I guess this is how I need to approach this quarantine. I’m getting frustrated and I will admit to having some anger at what seems to be unending restriction. I know that God is with us even though it’s hard to see. And I have to make myself believe that the curve is flattening, even if it doesn’t seem like it to me.
Peace be with us all.