Living in a time of double pandemic, as the dual waves of racism and COVID-19 wreck against the hulls of our ships and the walls that support us feel increasingly insufficient and even flawed, we, like Peter, may know and trust the call of our God to carry forward in God’s path, and yet waver.
Before the COVID pandemic, low-wage workers were already living in precarious circumstances because these jobs often lack benefits necessary to provide for health care and additional income necessary to build things like emergency savings and retirement funds.
The Syrophoenician woman sees herself as essential—both for herself and for her daughter. She is an uppity woman; we can assume that her daughter lived to often hear the tale, forming her as an uppity woman too.
Blaming Covid 19 on the World Health Organization or on a lab in China and calling Black Lives Matter “radical leftist extremists” follow the American-populist playbook of responding to duress by targeting an alien “other” who have wronged “us” and whom “we’re” right to combat with force.
It is consistent to say that everyone is equally intrinsically valuable by virtue of being human, and that death will deprive more future well-being from some. Focusing on the deprivation of future well-being will immediately bring up concerns.
For those who are most vulnerable today—those at risk of infection due to socio-economic injustices that put them in greater harm’s way and/or age and immune-deficiencies that leave their bodies more compromised to the most severe effects of the COVID-19 virus, particularly in the United States, the disproportionate numbers of people of color whose communities are being ravaged by this disease—John’s text speaks a word of encouragement and hope.
By the end of that first week our operations shifted and many of our staff, including myself, were set up in a senior center in Queens getting ready to boost our food distributions and our senior grab-and-go grocery bags. During that week we began to anticipate two major developments of this pandemic: the public health crisis and the ensuing economic hardship.
We must remember that even when the pandemic is over, this nation will still be under threat by people and forces who have declared war on everything and everyone it defines as “other”. We must remain committed to being hospitable to the stranger, and caring for the most vulnerable.