Each one of us has experienced the 2020 pandemic in a unique way. I have personally experienced it with some intensity, as the city I come from, Madrid, was impacted in dramatic ways. It brought to the forefront the value and dignity of each and every human life – particularly the elderly and the most vulnerable, known or unknown. It also brought about a deep concern for people throughout the entire world, particularly for those in countries impacted by poverty and for whom this reality could be even more devastating.
Where was God in all of this? As I grappled with the anguish of all those dying alone, I realized my lack of faith. God was and is with each suffering person. God is present, mysteriously, both in a personal and a global way. Christ promised us, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). God didn’t promise we wouldn’t suffer or undergo trials, but that He would accompany us. And that company brings consolation and hope. But how many of us know that?
I once heard the Trinity explained in a homily on the Sunday of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity in a way that I found it easy to relate to. The Holy Trinity is a community of Love (Love with capital L). The Father Loves the Son, the Son Loves the Father and the Holy Spirit is the Love between the two of them. The Father sends the Son, who comes into the world to reveal to us His love and to send to us the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to bring us back to the Father. I was touched by this full circle image where the entire world is embraced by the flow of love between the three persons of the Trinity. This is the Body of Christ. All of humanity as children of God, as brothers and sisters to one another, are invited to participate in this fountain of Trinitarian love.
Within that global embrace, each one of us is particularly loved, and invited to a personal relationship with God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. We are nourished through the wisdom and the Sacraments of the Church, especially with the Eucharist. We grow in love through the personal encounter with Christ in the Gospels.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”(Jn 3:16). Christina Dangond was a girl who witnessed this belief to me. “I bless you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the wise and the learned and revealing them to little children” (Mt 11:25). Cristy lived the last few years of her short 11 year life with such selfless abandon, peace, and joy, despite great trials, in great part, because of that deep and childlike belief of hers. Christina lived a personal relationship with Jesus. She used to say “Jesus I trust in You” frequently, and in particular before each chemotherapy treatment. Praying decreased her pain and appeased her fear.
I was quite struck when Christina attended a special prayer service and instead of praying for a miracle for herself, she prayed “for the world and for an end of pollution.” When asked why she didn’t pray for herself, she responded, “I don’t need to pray for myself because God already knows what His plan for my life is.” Cristy had a loving, personal, and especially, trusting relationship with her Trinitarian God, and in her global concern for the world, she also understood that we are all united by the same love of God.
We are all invited to freely participate in that fountain of Love. This participation has been brought to the forefront during the pandemic by the countless examples of self-sacrifice, generosity, solidarity, and service to others and for the common good. I have read many moving stories of Madrileños—victims of the virus, the elderly, family members, healthcare professionals, priests, religious women, volunteers, taxi drivers, workers of essential services, and ordinary citizens—which illustrate the heroism brought about by the dramatic circumstances in which they found themselves. All these poignant individual and collective stories that together weave the tapestry of our common humanity demonstrate that God’s Love and Spirit have been, and continue to be, visibly present and at work in our midst.
Dulce Soler, PhD, was born in Tarragona, Spain. She grew up in Madrid in a Catholic family with 8 brothers. She drifted from the church while in graduate school in the US. She considers herself very fortunate to have been invited back and to continue to discover the treasure, wisdom and beauty of our faith.
Dulce is a biologist who works in pharmaceutical R&D developing medicines for various diseases.