The fire of Pentecost was truly revolutionary. When I reflect on the events, even as understood by secular historians who strip out all what you might call “the supernatural” from what we read today, it cannot be understated how significant this event is. A small group of Jews from the Galilee launch a movement that defies the authorities of the world; tells people that their true protector, true benefactor, true saviour is not any king, emperor, senate or Sanhedrin, but is found in the person of Jesus Christ who lived, died and rose again. Through Him, though communion with Him, one can be connected to the source of all life, the fount of all truth; and then nothing has power over that person, not sin, not death, certainly not some politician or policeman. You have nothing to fear; and generations of Christian martyrs would witness to that, with defiance, saying to earthly power, “the most you can do is kill my body, but you cannot defeat God because God is Love and Truth; and Love and Truth will always win. We, through Christ, manifest the power of God here by our witness; not you kings, emperors, not you presidents and prime ministers… premiers.”
And we do not threaten or commit violence (that is the veiled threat of the state, the king, the authorities, but also the terrorist, the demagogic ideologue, the bullying activist); but by witnessing to Truth we fight, and we fight, not from hatred, but out of our loving concern for humanity.
How can you account for that?
So, yes, something happened in that room; and it was real, and it continues wherever there is faithfulness to the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.
And what happened was the Holy Spirit.
I’ve mentioned before that St. Basil the Great was the focus of much of my graduate studies, and he is rightly celebrated for helping the Church come to fully understand that the Holy Spirit is fully God, as much as the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. And I came through my studying him as a great figure within Eastern Christianity to note how absent there is an appreciation and active relationship with respect to this person of the Trinity in the Western Christian Church generally.
Too often, especially among our leadership, we fail to rely upon that which Jesus gave us as the source of our power, and instead look to earthly authorities for support and protection.
And when we do that; worry that we need to approach the hopelessly corrupt of the political world as the agents of change and transformation of the world and its peoples, well, we’ve forgotten ourselves.
When we live outside the Spirit of Truth, when we forget to keep our hearts open in constant invitation to the Spirit of Love, we are prey to fear, and make expedient decisions, and content ourselves with half-truths as being the best we can hope for in this broken world.
Our concern should be for the truth. And that is to be the focus of our discernment in looking at events in the world, when we consider what our leaders and the media tell us about the problems we have and the priorities we should hold. Maybe, they’re not right; we certainly know they’re not right all the time; and with respect to the media, they are usually in error in their first reports, and have a tendency to sensationalize. That doesn’t necessarily entail that they are actively trying to deceive, that they are consciously trying to manipulate; but if they act out of panic, are not rightly focussed upon knowing the truth of a situation and so being able to ask the right questions in pursuit of the best answers; they will mischaracterize the problems, and fasten upon solutions that may have little to do with the issue at hand, and that may have unforeseen and terrible consequences down the road; they may sacrifice lives now when such sacrifice was not needed, and so undermine their credibility when they must lead in a future crisis. Wed to bad decisions, they feel the pressure to bully and cajole those who question, threaten and punish those who then begin to resist. Our current political culture has little room for admission of error; change of policy, rethinking issues, this is not what we see, but rather doubling down on bad decisions and assigning blame. Christians have ample experience of this going all the way back to Emperor Nero who put to death St. Peter and others as the cause of the catastrophic great fire of Rome.
Our concern should be for the good of others; not our reputation as a nation or province; or the reputation of our leaders. Mistakes should be acknowledged, and the courage to start over again toward better, more effective approaches ought to be found among us, but especially our leaders. When reasoned discussion and healthy debate are ruled out of order because it is an emergency; we ought to be concerned; when we fear to ask questions, we should be alarmed by that.
You see, it’s not unreasonable to ask questions, and to hold back from supporting initiatives when the questions are ignored, the answers inadequate or contradictory.
The province has initiated a Three-Step reopening plan that openly pressures people to take vaccines. We know that these are not vaccines in the usual sense, but are a new technology and that they have not gone through the ordinary process of trials. There are risks to taking them, as with any pharmaceutical. Those considering taking them should be allowed to judge the risk according to their own situations, and not be pressured to go along with the crowd.
For Catholics, there are ethical considerations, notwithstanding statements from the Vatican that some point out as inconsistent with the Church’s historical position.
The issue of the effectiveness of the vaccines has been raised by the report that eight members of the New York Yankees baseball club have tested positive even though fully vaccinated. This also raises questions about testing itself; how good is it?
Now, because of Provincial policy, those who choose for good reason not to receive the vaccines are potentially among the vilified; the latest to be blamed for the failed response of our governments to the crisis. You may remember last summer it was “all those young people partying” that caused the spread; but we’ve subsequently learned that the rise in cases were among low paid factory workers who, lacking sick days, would not go home to get over it; or who went home to a small apartment they shared with a large family, and in lockdown quickly spread it through their household.
My daughter is a cancer survivor who can only receive irradiated blood products; no one can really tell me what her risks are. But as a reasonably healthy teenager, she is not among the most vulnerable. So, there is nothing irrational in holding off. Many people who received the vaccines did so from fear, not reasoned assessment of their situation. Others didn’t reason at all, but simply did as they were told; again, these are instructions from governments that have not demonstrated any particular competence.
Why is there no discussion of effective therapies? Ivermectin was briefly raised a number of months ago, and dismissed by the media out of hand as being “no wonder drug.” No one claimed it was. But we do know that fast-tracking of vaccines was only allowable if there were no effective therapies available. So, the incentive to deride and dismiss and to stick with the one strategy to the exclusion of others was there.
Ivermectin is being widely distributed in India. The number are going down. Is that merely coincidence? Is anyone looking into this? Have we noticed how the media’s coverage of India has declined? How they’ve moved onto the latest hotspot.
Why do we not ask how Florida was able to emerge so quickly? We know that initially its approach was condemned, and that there was a whistleblower within its health agencies claiming that deaths were being underreported. Then we heard not much more. Didn’t learn how they managed to turn the corner; we weren’t told that the accusation of undercounting was unfounded. You’d have to dig around the internet to find out that information.
My aim here is not to push a particular position aside from the one I stated: I’m concerned that we as a Church, as Christians, act from Truth and not political expediency; that we engage in an authentic pursuit of the good, and not in a flight in fear. And we do so because that is of God; and to grow in confidence in that, is to grow through the power of His Holy Spirit. That takes courage in this world; and I’m not particularly courageous, but I’m more fearful of the alternative: to live the rest of my days in fear, selling my birthright as a free man made in the image of God for a mess of potage.
And as I never tire to point out, our God known in Jesus Christ is a rational God, the source of Reason. And so, while we might think of the Holy Spirit as something exuberant, perhaps even dangerous like a wildfire, we know that its presence among is not known by enthusiasm or excitement, but by the indwelling of God who gives us the courage to exercise the reason He has given us, and the compassion to love those with whom we disagree.
Links (note, I am not linking these as proof of Ivermectin’s effectiveness, but rather to show that there is credible evidence that it is has been worth looking at):
Johns Hopkins has developed a risk assessment tool (sadly only for US – so you need to make up a zip code to use it).
New York Times article on vaccination rates worldwide
A Crisis magazine story on vaccines and the change in Vatican policy
In India, Ivermectin included in homecare kits, numbers improve
Canadian company shows that Ivermectin has promise
Mexico City claims Ivermectin reduced hospitalizations