miércoles, 31 de marzo de 2021

WHAT IS THE CORONA PANDEMIC TELLING US? , Fr. Isaiah Hong Seung Koo OP, Corea del Sur

 We know the records of numerous wars, natural disasters or global pandemics that have occurred in history. When we read about these tragic past events, it is difficult to actually feel the terrible misery. The reason is that we are not in the field of the events. 2020, when all mankind is suffering from a pandemic, will be recorded as a historical year later. Now we are living in an era that will be recorded as the history of another misery. 

Earlier this year, a new virus called Corona broke out in a city, Wuhan in China, and it spread rapidly around the world and is still going on. The coronavirus has begun to change our daily lives, and the church cannot escape from its influence.  

In 1784, a Korean Confucian scholar, Lee Seung-Hun was officially baptized for the first time in Beijing. This could be the official beginning of the Korean Catholic Church. Since then, despite many persecutions and trials, the Korean church has maintained its faith and has grown greatly by proclaiming the Gospel to the world. However, at the end of February 2020, the number of patients of Coronavirus suddenly increased in Korea, and the Korean church had to make a decision to stop all Masses. It did not happen even under the blade of any persecution. 

After that, the number of patients in Korea decreased and the church could open her doors again, but believers and priests are required to wear masks during Mass, cannot sit close to each other nor sing hymn loudly. Depending on the number of patients and the degree of pandemic, the church still has to close or open the door repeatedly.  

This is not a phenomenon specific to the church. People are suffering great damage in their lives. Markets and department stores that were crowded with people became quiet and many shops have lost customers and closed. And what scares us even more is that the end of this pandemic is invisible. 

Before science was developed, people used to think that this type of disease was due to God's wrath against human sin and tried to overcome difficulties by committing to prayer. Today, people still pray to overcome the corona pandemic, but they listen to medical scientists or doctors rather than to priests or the church.  

People think that it is science, not the church that will save mankind from this pandemic. Even if they are Christians, the idea is not different. As science and technology develop more highly, religions are losing their place, especially in a moment of crisis where human life is at risk.  

The church including our Dominican Order in Korea is facing great challenges in these days. Above all, the church has a strong attribute of community, but it is now seriously limited by the pandemic. As a result, the number of believers attending Mass, or any religious meetings dropped sharply, and even financial problems began to arise.   

As priests or religious of the Catholic Church, we should seriously ask ourselves on this matter. What is the Corona Pandemic telling us now? What is God telling us through this virus?  

It has been a long time since people's trust in science surpassed that in religion. Science explains natural phenomena, predicts the future, and lengthens human life. It is no exaggeration to say that science is now becoming another religion. We all look forward to the invention of a vaccine that can defeat the coronavirus as soon as possible.  

Once the vaccine is invented, we may at least be freed from the fear of Corona. However, could that really be a fundamental measure? Even if the vaccine can eliminate the current virus, it will be useless for the emergence of another transformed virus. We, of course, need vaccines now, but what we more desperately need is a fundamental and intrinsic reflection on this pandemic phenomenon.  

The pandemic is not the only problem we face. Global warming and climate change caused by the destruction of the environment are already threatening human survival. Corona Pandemic should be considered in connection with environmental issues, not just one virus. God created this world that looked good and entrusted man with its management. We are not owners of this world; we must turn back as humble custodians of God's beautiful world.  

The science and technology that humans have developed do not consider nature as an organism, but as a resource for human convenience. Religion has not succeeded in presenting a moral direction to the science. Religion must restore its own role in guiding science's development in the right direction, not in a competitive relationship with science.  

Now is the time for us to meet nature again as our precious friend. Otherwise, we will sacrifice our precious things even more seriously. When nature is sick, humans get sick, and when nature dies, humans also die. God have mercy on us!

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