In the age of covid-19, ‘what is truth?’ Jn 18:38
I am the way and truth and life. … If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. Jn 14:6-7
Shock – Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance. In the grief cycle of Australian infamy March 2020 will be remembered as the month of shock!
Friday 13th morning TV was riveting. Will they – Wont they cancel Australia’s F1 Grand Prix? Incredibly they did. ABC viewers witnessed the numbed disbelief of disgruntled fans being turned away from the turnstile’s hours before the first practice session. The ‘phoney war’ was over.
Later that same day the PM introduced an incredulous nation to a new vocabulary, a new vernacular: Covid-19, isolation, testing, tracing, non / essential, National Cabinet, quarantine, travel ban, gathering limits.
Politically unanimity becalmed ideological differences in the immediate aftermath. In scenes reminiscent of the WW1 Christmas truce on the Western Front when soldiers from both sides emerged from their trenches to share gestures of good will, compromises were made to ease the plight of the Coronavirus pandemic’s victims.
But as yesterdays became indistinguishable from todays and tomorrows morphed into weeks and months, ‘tribal’ politics re-emerged. The bargaining stage of argument and negotiation had been reached. Similarly, the disciples in lockdown prior to the Pentecost had the challenge of discerning conjecture from truth. ‘Really are we to believe that Jesus is up and about after that horrific execution – surely that has got to be fake news,’ Thomas had argued.
Truth is indeed at the heart of the challenge to construct a more just and compassionate society if we are to avoid the cynicism of the Guardian’s cartoon: “the coronavirus is terrible and its good that we are all in this together except for everyone who isn’t.”
Humanity’s enforced retreat from ‘the normal’ has given pause for reflection upon societal inequities exposed by the Coronavirus.
BIBLICAL TRUTH AND DISCERNMENT
Biblical truth is personal rather than conceptual. No this is not an argument for relativism. Relationships is what the Bible is all about. To remove the ‘log from one’s eye’ to see what is to be seen without judgement requires empathy, conversation, understanding, mutuality if one is to replicate the intimacy that Jesus shared with the Father. (Jn 14:6-7)
Laws establish boundaries. Relationships initiate transformation, identity and intimacy with the other. It is ongoing conversion that draws one into the mystery of God’s truth. From Genesis to Revelations the bible is replete with characters transforming and growing in wisdom through discernment of right relationship with God, self and others.
Discernment - meaning to sift through or sort out - is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality. Discernment is about attaining a feeling of peace through reflection upon the best way to ‘live out one’s faith in the real world.’ Both the grief cycle and discernment are cyclical rather than linear as stages will be revisited en route to acceptance of a new reality.
THE NEW NORMAL
Human values implicit in both the Grief Cycle and Ignatian discernment will need to permeate societal behaviour if post coronavirus society is to embrace truth and equity as the new normal. An authentically relational society has been envisaged by philosopher of religion Peter Vardy (2003):
“All the great world religions … claim there is a ‘something more’ which represents by far the more important aspect of what it means to be human. Central to the ‘something more’ is the search for wisdom, perspicuity and insight and, particularly, the importance of each individual developing a reference to something Absolute … which aids the development of other individuals to their full potential.”
(Main image from Pixabay by PDPics)