Photo via Unsplash
Photo via Unsplash

As I was out for my morning walk the other day, I slowed by the house of my good friends hoping they would see me and maybe we could socialize distantly. After months, I was so glad to see them and talk. My friend who tends toward great depth and spirituality asked about the pandemic: “Where is God in all this?” Her husband laughed and wondered if that was a good-before-8 a.m.-over-coffee question. But I did not mind because it is a question that I have asked myself and a question I get all the time.  

As we return to faith formation however we return, we still have the incredible need to share the word of God and to teach what we find precious. And we might feel an even greater urgency because we have been disconnected for so long. But the question my friend asked cannot be ignored. The crisis is too much before all of us. We can plumb the depth of scripture and find Christ there, but it will matter more if we can relate it to where Christ is now in a time of pandemic and the growing awareness of social justice we have championed as a Church for years. We must answer the question: “Where is God in all this?”

The good news is that we do not need to reduce ourselves to a dumbfounded stare and a shrug of the shoulders. For Christ has been a vibrant presence. The Spirit has been working. As always, God despises sickness and death (witness Jesus’ anguish at the tomb of Lazarus) but is not powerless before it (witness Jesus raising Lazarus from death.)

Where is God in all this? God was certainly present in the worldwide sacrifices on behalf of each other. We lost money and freedom so that others might live. We surrendered our desires on behalf of the common good. I think of the seniors in high school and college who caught such a rotten break and carried themselves with dignity and good humor. God was present there.

Where is God in all this? God was the strength beyond strength that allowed nurses and doctors and front-line workers to persevere in the worst of the crisis. God is the moment of compassion and justice we are in the midst of. God is the resilience and deeper reserve of toughness we have discovered in ourselves and in one another. God is the way we overcame every obstacle to let our loved ones know they are not alone.

So as we prepare to welcome back children and adults to our classrooms and/or screens, point out where Christ flourished during these trying times. And then marvel at his promises were realized — that his strength would be our strength, his toughness would be our toughness and his wisdom would be our wisdom. We who follow the cross have remembered that suffering could lead to good and that resurrection is the dawn that follows every darkness. What better time than now to explain that the word of God still matters and that our God is a living and saving God?

Where is God in all this?  Everywhere and especially in those whom we are privileged to serve. And may God be with you as you share God’s never ending story of grace this year.

Father Robert Longobucco is pastor at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish and is the diocesan Vicar for Faith Formation and Education.