29 Mar TWO FORCES…
St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, often talked about two forces in our interior lives: one that draws us toward God and the other away from God. The one that draws us away from God, which he labeled the evil spirit, “causes gnawing anxiety, saddens and sets up obstacles. In this way it unsettles people by false reasons aimed at preventing their progress.” Sound familiar? Don’t lend credence to lies or rumors, or give in to panic. Trust what medical experts tell you, not those who fear monger. There is a reason they call Satan the “Prince of Lies.”
Panic, by confusing and frightening you, pulls you away from the help God wants to give you. It is not coming from God. What is coming from God? St. Ignatius tells us: God’s spirit “stirs up courage and strength, consolations, inspirations and tranquility.” So trust in the calm and hope you feel. That is the voice to listen to.
“Do not be afraid!,” as Jesus said many times.
Do not demonize. The other day a friend told me that when an elderly Chinese man got onto a subway car in New York City, the car emptied out as people started shouting slurs at him, blaming his country for spreading the virus. Resist the temptation to demonize or scapegoat, which increases in time of stress and shortages. Covid-19 is not a Chinese disease; it is not a “foreign” disease. It is no one’s “fault.” Likewise, the people who become infected are not to blame. Remember that Jesus was asked about a blind man: “Who sinned, that this man was born blind?” Jesus’ response: “No one” (Jn 9:2). Illness is not a punishment. So don’t demonize and don’t hate.