I Believe (II)

(This call to prayer was published on March 21, 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus. Three years have passed since then. The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes that the pandemic could end in 2023. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the past three years? In what way has spirituality helped you deal with the challenges brought on by the pandemic? And finally, how much damage has it brought to the sense of fellowship within Christian communities locally and globally?)

Reading: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day, he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Reflection: In the last few days, the term “social distance” has crept into our ears through the media. Of course, Sarajevans have joined the whole world in making jokes about it, but it sends shivers down my spine. It’s as if I’ve heard this term before in some other, even darker, context, so I did a little research. Social distance is a serious term used in sociology to describe the distance created in society based on class, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual differences. As a scientific category, social distance is not inherently negative, but this term is often present in describing negative phenomena in a society where divisions and stratifications occur based on prejudices, physical differences, abuse of economic power, or a sense of superiority of one group over another.

What we need today, it seems to me, is something opposite to social distance in the true sense of its meaning. We need unity, solidarity, benevolence, selflessness, and support that transcends all social and societal differences. However, I must mention, so that no one misunderstands me – responsible behavior with physical distance – yes! Responsible behavior with social contact – yes! Respecting everything that competent authorities order us to do with the task of creating a safer environment – yes!

Whenever each of us pronounces the words of the Apostles’ Creed and says “I believe…”, it is not just our personal statement of faith, but it is also the statement of faith of those around us – those before us and those beside us, i.e. the entire Church. This means that we, as part of the Church, are not called to have our own private beliefs. Personal – yes, private – no! How many times have we heard someone say that their faith is their private matter? The essence of the Apostles’ Creed tells us that our faith, although personal, is also a shared thing – the faith of the Church throughout the ages. It is a faith in which individuals from all walks of life and from every possible social category unite in one body. Therefore, the call to believe is a call to community and fellowship with others who also confess the same faith.

Since the essential characteristic of our faith is fellowship, then that fellowship cannot be reserved only for those within it. This community requires that (transcending social categories) it reaches out to others and shelters those outside of it under its wings. If it were not so, the Triune God would not have stepped into the creation of the world. Jesus would not have become one of us. He also would not have talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, and the good Samaritan would not have helped the Israelite in distress. Peter would not have gone to Cornelius, nor would Paul have preached to the Greeks, and you and I would be without hope in this world today.

In times like these, we need each other more than ever. We must not allow ourselves to become alienated and let fear paralyze us so that we are not sensitive to our neighbor. This does not always have to mean physical touch or proximity, but there are so many ways to be there for others, to bring hope, and to thus be sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

Today, as the Church, we pray: Our Father, we ask that you be with those who suffer, those who are infected, those who doubt, and those whom fear has overcome. Be with them, heal them. Bring hope where it is running out. Give wisdom to all those who struggle to overcome the epidemic. Send your children to help those in need. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Translated from the Bosnian language by ChatGPT Mar 14 Version

Posted in Daily devotionals.