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Religion Column — THE Super spreader

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

When we look back upon the year 2020, we shall, (pardon the pun,) do so with perfect eyesight. Even during this Christmas season, there is a palpable malaise to the current time. We are quite weary of all of the warnings, maskings, distancings and all other manners of limitations centering upon this Covid-19 curse. It hardly seems like a time to celebrate. Restaurants, stores, beauty salons, etcetera, have opened, closed and repeated; with some never to return. Our neighbors, or perhaps ourselves, have seen incomes diminished and employment evaporate. Some have contracted the virus; some have recovered and some have not. Of all those who have suffered, consider our children. Their schooling has taken many forms and been more variable and disjointed than the overall sequestrations. They cannot interact with their peers, see their parents under duress from many quarters, and often visit their grandparents only remotely. We await to discover what impact all of this shall have on them.

Yet, all is not dark, as parents have gotten to better know their children by spending time in quarantine together. We learned that keeping ourselves isolated to a few friends and relatives coined the word “bubble.” We learned a new option, while using the Internet, as we began to have “Facetime,” and yet another definition of the word, “Zoom.” It allowed us to at least see others; if not actually be with them. In spite of all the omnipresent warnings, some 50 million of our fellow Americans thumbed their noses and traveled during Thanksgiving, and over 80 million are estimated to do so during Christmastide. Yes, we are sick and tired of all of this.

We have frequently heard about how we are fighting a war; this time against the pestilence of Covid-19. It is indeed a war, as anything we collectively fight against is considered as such. As in WWII, we fight against a common, yet now invisible to the eye, enemy. In our case, it the use of the weapon of vaccines, and the interim methodologies of prevention, until we reach yet another new definition entitled, “herd immunity.”

Sir Winston Churchill, England’s Prime Minister during the World War II, was renowned for his linguistic talents. Much of the Allies, including we Americans, were inspired by his eloquent speeches and insights. Many have given him credit for saving Britain from Adolph Hitler’s tyranny. Eleven months after Pearl Harbor was bombed, he gave a speech which put all in a new light. The German general, Irwin Rommel, had just been soundly defeated by British forces and it was the end of fighting in Africa against the Nazis. It was a cause for celebration; not unlike the recent vaccine discoveries, trials, and the beginnings of distribution. However, Sir Winston knew he had to restrain the euphoria. In that speech he said, “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” The august gentlemen well knew the necessity of balancing the earnest prayer for peace; coupled with the dogged pursuit of that goal.

Another term we have learned, during all of this, is “super spreader event.” It is a quite negative label which identifies a large gathering of folks who are not following recommended, or mandated, guidelines. It connotes the potential ability for the virus to spread rapidly through a significant number of people. In spite of all of this darkness, we do find great light. We do find another super spreader, a sublimely divine one whom we know as Jesus Christ; for he is THE Super Spreader.  His presence and Word, amongst us, is rife with many miracles of compassion and hope. He infects we Christians with the hope of redemption, salvation and everlasting life. His cure is giving ourselves to Him, and swallowing the elixir of repentance.

Reflecting upon Sir Winston’s speech, given in the darkest hours of World War II we too, perhaps, are at the end of the beginning. As Christ Jesus said, “Come unto me, all of you who are heavy laden and I will refresh you.” It is to He we come for our spiritual sustenance and strength to persevere in these our dark days upon this earth.

We celebrate Jesus’ lowly birth this upcoming Friday. May we be comforted by His presence among us, as we honor this most glorious day. May this Christmastide, and each day, be most blessed for you and yours.