What would God propose about wearing a facemask in a world swirling with uncertainty? “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6: 2).
Last Friday, we picked up two pints of ice cream at the local ice cream parlor. Many young people between 18 and 22 were there as well. There wasn’t much else to do. Shockingly, not one wore a facemask, except me. What a teachable moment! Here was a captive audience. How could I teach them to teach themselves?
“Is there anyone here who’d want to kill a 70-year old man?”
“There’s no one who’s 70 around here,” cracked one guy in the back.
“You’re 70,” one young lady remarked and added, “you’re hot for 70.”
“Oh, thank you for saying that, Miss.”
Don’t judge a book by its cover! Look!” and I showed them the scars underneath my T-shirt, proof of my reconstructive lumbar surgery.
“While I was riding my bicycle, a nice old lady rammed into me when she gunned out of the parking lot.”
Silence, for just half a second or two. I got their attention.
“Oh, don’t worry, you won’t kill me because of these scars.
I’m a 70-year-old man, prone to bronchitis and pneumonia. So, if this Covid-19 virus infects me, I’m dead meat.”
By wearing a facemask, you protect me. Anyone here who doesn’t want to help save lives?”
I reminded them about being your ‘brother’s keeper’ that some learned years earlier in Sunday School.
My impromptu talk only lasted a few minutes, but it has affected me for a lifetime. Youth still want to hear the Good News.
In response to probable conspiracies, I retorted: “there is nothing conspiratorial about being kind and thoughtful. Someday, we’ll know more. Even if you know which questions to ask, most of the answers will be wrong. We’re still learning. We’re all human. Can we agree to err on the side of precaution?”
In ‘Nothing but the Cross,’ Saint Pope John Paul II says:
Being a conscientious person means being committed to the kingdom of God. God’s spiritual kingdom is the realm of truth and life, of justice, love, and peace – within our families, in the communities in which we live, and throughout the homeland.
It also means courageously taking responsibility for public affairs.
It means to work diligently for the common good and not close our eyes to our neighbor’s misery and needs, in the spirit of the solidarity of the gospel, “Bear one another burdens” (Galatians 6: 2).
With Every Good Wish to You, I am,
Abraham A. van Kempen
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