When the pandemic first began, there were, all across the world, individuals who stood up and continued to work despite the reality that they might not only catch COVID, but also die from it. We watched as bus drivers, subway workers, grocery store clerks and health care workers sacrificed their safety and the safety of their families so that others could live a bit more comfortably. Some of them gave the ultimate sacrifice for their bravery; they contracted the virus and succumbed to it. I also want to salute the teachers who, at a moment’s notice, began teaching virtually without skipping a beat. I know of one teacher who used the side of her washing machine as a white board to teach her sixth-grade class math through Google Classroom.
I think of these individuals as I continue my series on the Beatitudes for the Modern Day that Pope Francis gave us back in 2016. The one I would like to turn my attention to is, “Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.” I continue to be amazed over the fact that these Beatitudes, penned several years ago, are almost prophetic in their perception of what is going on today. So many “common folk” sacrifice on a daily basis for the wellbeing of others – including you and me. I think that one of the graces I’ve found during COVID is actually appreciating all the hidden acts of kindness that happen on a daily basis right under my nose!
When the pandemic was new, I knew a nurse who worked in the COVID testing tents. Every day, she would gown-up in Personal Protection Equipment. She took tests of some very, very sick people. Some were later admitted to the ICU and lost the fight against the virus. After several months went by and the level of people seeking tests dwindled, she returned to her normal responsibilities. I asked her, “Where did you get the strength to put your life on the line for people who didn’t even know you?” Humbly, she looked at her feet and then whispered, “When the pandemic started and we all locked down, I realized that the Word of God became Man. He became one of us, not only to teach us about the amazing love of the Father, but also to save us on the cross. Jesus was born to die. What an example! As a nurse, I was born to give people hope that life does not end, that there is a reason for all of this! God can make this time into an amazing moment of conversion. All we have to do is believe that He is in charge! Yes, tough stuff. But, possible!”
At that very moment she became a superhero to me as the tears trickled down my face.
Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others! This is the tough stuff of what holiness is all about! This is the example of so many unknown people. Next time you see someone doing something for someone, say “Thanks!” By saying that to them, you are showing your gratitude to Jesus, who sacrificed everything for us! How grateful we all should forever be!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness