Far away in the vast country of the Democratic Republic of Congo in one of its northern regions called Kivu, an outbreak of the deadly virus Ebola has broken out. It has been raging for about 10 months. Attempts to get it under control are hampered by the civil war raging in the area.There is no known cure for this virus. Should you contract it, there is only a 50% expectation you will survive. Already 1000 people are known to have died from it in this recent outbreak. People who come into immediate contact with people stricken down are likely to contract the illness, family and medical staff. Should you be unfortunate enough to catch it, death follows within 6 -10 days. As a virus it is a near cousin of the Bubonic plague and it has the potential to decimate even a whole population. The largest known outbreak of the illness took place in West Africa between 2013-2016 and is estimated to have taken 11,310 lives.
When you become aware that what some people have to deal with in life, reminds you how fortunate you are, but it also reminds you of many of the petty concerns of life are just that petty concerns. Sometimes the real concerns are out there want and need, hunger and war, pestilence and plague. Instead of getting wrapped up in things that don’t matter, these are the things we should be concerned about.
Last week I mentioned to you about belief and unbelief. It is easy not to believe. Not to believe that the world will be any better. That there will always be wars, that there will always be hunger, that there will always be inhuman things, that there will always be the shadow of plagues like Ebola.
But maybe our job is to believe in a better world. To aim for a world in which war can be a thing if the past. That people can be fed. That world trade can be fairer. That virus can be cured, that people don’t have to live under the shadow if fear.
To not believe, you give into hopelessness. To believe you have hope that things will be better, that things will improve, that there are solutions to problems.
Last week’s readings at mass were all about believing. Thomas who didn’t believe and then did. Today at Mass that same theme occurs, the fisherman go back out fishing, they don’t think they will catch anything, it seems pointless, before they know it they catch a great catch of fish. It often seems when you don’t believe in life that there is nothing out there, there is only the black night and the deep waters, nothing to catch, nothing to reach out for. With belief the stars are out and there is a teaming sea of possibilities to catch hold of – all things are possible, everything is possible.
In Africa, in the vast country that is DRC men are women are in the front line, soldiers in a battlefield ], fighting a mighty foe, the deadly virus Ebola. They are not for running away, not for laying down their arms, they are not leaving the battlefield. They can contain it, get it under control and save lives. How amazing that seems.
The power of belief abounds. People can be well again. Lives can be saved. Things can be better. The world can be saved.
Is this not at the end of the day, the Easter message that breaks through. The tomb is not closed but it is open and the Lord wishes to give us life and hope.