|(Image courtesy: Jean Marc Arkelian)|
Fear of Covid and Faith in God
The intense fear of Covid and deep faith in God seem to be keeping our life going in these days of so much uncertainty. The unexpected arrival of the Corona virus into our country, state, and place of our inhabitation has made the omnipresence of this nasty infectious virus more than tolerable. A good number of seniors and those who could not tolerate the onslaught of Covid 19 have left this world to eternity.
Corona virus has left no one untouched, from a pious lay person to a ferocious politician, from a simple beggar to a holy priest corona has played its game and won it. Those who are still around might be thinking when will this corona affect and take them as a victim. Others might be thinking what this nonsense of corona lockdown is, and in number of countries this laxity in people's behaviour has led to increase a sudden surge of corona infections. Many have downplayed the enormous health hazards this virus brings and succumbed to this killer bug as if a punishment to their pride and arrogance. Moreover, during this time, we must have lost count of the days, weeks and months. We are already in the eighth month since the Corona virus started to make news in India.
Month of October and Virgin Mary as Our Mother
As we are already in the month of October which in no time usher into Christmas and New year, we are not so far away from saying good bye to this miserably unmerciful year of Corona. My hypothesis is that Covid vaccine might not be available to us even until the end of 2020 and we would continue to be in this marooned state of corona lockdown. However, we should not lose track of what is on our plate.
October month is a time dedicated especially to praying Rosary among Catholics. It's a month to look at once again the feminine aspect of God's presence in the person of a woman. Therefore, Greek Christian theology termed Mary as Theotokos, the Mother of God, God's very presence in the person of human being. Therefore, the Bible in several places speaks of the protection of God in terms of a mother or in female images.
The images of God as female and bearer
The Holy Scripture is full of images and through these images God communicates to us who He is and how He is caring for us. For example: Genesis 1:27 Women and Men created in God’s image: “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them.” In Prophet Hosea 11:3-4 God described as a mother. God: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” Again in Prophet Hosea 13:8 God described as a mother bear: “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”. In Deuteronomy 32:11-12 God described as a mother eagle: “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.” Once again in Deuteronomy 32:18 God who gives birth: “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
Image of God as mother and woman
Prophet Isaiah's understanding of the image of God as mother is very powerful and touching. In Isaiah 66:13 here, God is symbolized as a comforting mother: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Again in Prophet Isaiah 49:15 God is compared to a nursing mother: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Once again Prophet Isaiah 42:14 God as a woman in labor: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”
Even Psalmist does not give up on the notion of God's motherly nature. In Psalm 131:2 God is mentioned as a Mother: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” In Psalm 123:2-3 God is compared to a woman: “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH, until you show us your mercy!”
Jesus' emphasis on God's motherly embrace
Even in the New Testament the images of God as woman are captivating. See Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 God as a Mother Hen. Jesus says: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Once again in Luke 15:8-10 God as woman looking for her lost coin. Jesus: “Or what woman having ten silver coins, is she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Very fascinatingly, the above imageries of how God protects us are very touching. God's power and protection over His creation is immense and extensive. His presence is everywhere and beyond anyone's control including that of Covid 19. Without ambiguity, we see in all the selections I have cited above have a soothing, soft, tender and kind touch of a person who loves and cares for us. These imageries come in the person of female, bearer, woman or mother. Which mother will not protect and save her daughter or son? Perhaps keeping in mind these above imageries of God as mother if we pray Rosary during this month surely we will have a positive effect in our hearts and minds and will see the protective hand of God in our troubled times.
Have experienced ever God's motherly protection and embrace in your life? Who are the motherly figures, or other persons of faith and protection, that have modelled these characteristics for you, in your life?
- Olvin Veigas, SJ
08 October 2020