“Do not let fear overcome you” – Mgr Grech on coronavirus

Raymond Grech

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

“The fear over the coronavirus is prodding us to act individually; this is far worse than the biological repercussions of the virus itself”, said Apostolic Administrator for Gozo Mgr Mario Grech. Delivering a homily on the occasion of the feast of Saint Gregory the Great during mass at Ta’ Kerċem, Mgr Grech appealed for everyone to stop thinking on an individual level. He added that one should follow the guidelines laid out by the Health Authorities, and not panic unnecessarily.

It is fitting, he said, that the occasion of the feast of St. Gregory coincides with a time of fear and panic over an epidemic. He explained how St. Gregory became Pope in a time when Rome was riddled with the plague, and how he led the Church into prayer and penitence so as for God to stand by the victims.  Mgr Grech stated that there is much to learn from Pope Gregory on how to conduct oneself in such times. These learnings are found in a text known as Moralia, a commentary on the Book of Job.

Mgr Grech said that in the face of such epidemics, it is normal for people to ask rhetorical questions, and that satisfactory answers cannot be had without God’s grace. Particularly in times where such situations are not a result of irresponsible actions, one can be led to ask whether the epidemic is a form of punishment, or even whether God exists.

However, St. Gregory said that the way God makes himself present in our lives is not always overtly clear. When Job laments that his fears chase him and catch up to him, Pope Gregory comments that the good believe that God has abandoned them, but that he never does; that whatever humanity thinks is a punishment, is often God’s grace in disguise.

St. Gregory stresses that the mind of a mortal could not put into words the meaning of suffering. Mgr Grech stated that in such negative circumstances such as disease and suffering, humanity can only look for a break in the clouds in God. If one allows oneself to trust in God, they would find a light that overcomes all darkness. Therefore, in such negative circumstances, God’s grace aids humanity to get back on its feet.  

The teachings of St. Gregory show that with God’s help, anything can be overcome. With God’s love in one’s heart, the walls of fear can be hurdled over, and all doubts can be resolved. Mgr Grech concluded his homily by appealing for a sense of extracting the good from the bad. He explained that the advent of the coronavirus can be considered as an opportunity to reopen the door that perhaps one had closed on God.