Corona, Virus of the Hard Heart

17 March 2020

Cold is good for viral infections. With heat, they disappear. Cold preserves foodstuffs, but freezes human activities. Cold deadens nature which awaits the life-giving rays of the sun for its revival. The cold puts people who work outside, farmers and such, into hibernation, in the expectation of the coming of spring when they can, once again start their laborious tasks. The cold makes people gather around their hearths, learning from the reminiscences of the past and planning for the future. Finally, in today’s conditions and experiences, the cold encourages the spread of the corona pandemic which will not pass until the warmth of the spring and summer arrives.

God, Who ‘made everything in wisdom’ (Ps. 103, 24) has brought us heat and cold in the yearly cycle. If we didn’t huddle together in our homes during the cold spell, we wouldn’t then enjoy the warmth in the countryside or at the sea. In human terms, we’ve associated cold with restriction and, perhaps, general unpleasantness, whereas warmth is desirable and lovely. We even say this about types of people: ‘He’s cold; she’s a cold sort of person’. But if we like someone then it’s ‘They’ve got warm love’, ‘warm behavior’ ‘we send our warmest wishes’, and ‘they’ve got a warm heart’.

What’s unfortunate these days isn’t the effect of warm or cold weather on our everyday lives, since we’re never satisfied with that in any case, but our spiritual warmth and coldness in every manifestation of our existence. In our social environment, even among Christians, we see that the love of many has grown cold (Matth. 24, 12). We’ve become frigid emotionally. It’s terrible that, in our own immediate social sphere, there are people who live in apartments, but are isolated. They die without anybody even knowing. There are people in hospital whom nobody visits, even though hundreds of people are walking backwards and forwards all the time. We see disabled elderly people, abandoned children, mothers without help, people living in hardship, all of whom say, with pain, ‘I have no-one’ (cf. Jn. 5, 7), underlining the fact that loneliness is a tragic phenomenon these days. It really is a tragedy, in an age when means of communication have been perfected, that there are still people suffering from loneliness, which isn’t merely isolation, but abandonment because of lack of love. If there’s no love, you can be living in the midst of millions of others, but still feel alone, without anyone you can confide in, open your heart to, speak to about your problems, your pain, your anxieties. This is the epidemic of our estrangement from God, the epidemic of the deadly virus of hard-heartedness and dissociation from the Gospel precepts of love, fellow-feeling and togetherness. Nothing’s been published about this. It doesn’t have the dimensions of a pandemic, though it is deadly.

Regarding the corona virus, there’s hope of a vaccine and the advent of hot weather which will kill it. For the virus of hard-heartedness, the hope is a warming of the heart and the vaccine of God’s Grace. If we warm our hearts with love and ask for Divine Grace then we’ll kill off every deadly virus and will bear the Cross as we tread our path through life, in the certainty that the Lord’s Grace will bring us to the Resurrection. The spiritual corona virus will have disappeared. It can’t survive in hearts warmed by love.