The Holy Book says: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” (Eccl. 3:1) Thus “there is a time to love.” (Eccl. 3:8) Of course every time is a time to love. But during this time of COVID 19 which is very much out of the ordinary, people may think of many things, but not of love. Many emotions burst out because of extraordinary measures: fear, for one, another can be anger, while others may fall into helplessness. The message of love should therefore be proclaimed loud and clear in this time. Now is the time to love!

St. John wrote in his letter: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” (1 Jn. 4:18) Let us not look at this COVID 19 phenomenon as a punishment. If we do then we go to blame-pointing – who made the mistake, who sinned. This is one subtle way to throw the burden to the others to solve this problem. But perfect love drives away fear – fear that it is an inevitable punishment, fear of others who caused this, fear of uncertain future.

As Christians when we speak of love, we speak firstly not of our love, but of the source of love, God. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn. 4:19) Convinced that we are loved, then we can love others. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:10-11)

With all these sufferings, with all our routines disrupted, with all day to day life disturbed, can we still say that we are loved by God? We need this assurance of the Word of God. “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?” (Rom. 8:35) We can also add, will virus separate us from the love of Christ? God continues to love us in Christ even with this corona pandemic. He will see us through this. This too will pass. He will protect us.

Assured that God’s love encompasses us, then let us love others more in these times. We are day in and day out with our families. This is a golden opportunity to show our love to them by being considerate and patient with each one, by having time with each one, and by opening ourselves up to each other. Let us not just share our gripes to each one but create fond memories with each other.

While it is good to have love for those people we are forced to stay with, let us expand our love. Let us love those who are particularly affected by these times – the poor, the day to day wage earners, and the frontline / health workers who risk themselves to be of service to others. Perhaps this is the time to dig deep down into our pockets to help out those who do not even have pockets to dig into.

As we try to help the poor around us, it would be good if the help we extend is more organized and thus impactful. Let us support institutions that have the heart and the technology to help. One thing that comes to mind is CARITAS MANILA, an NGO of the Archdiocese of Manila, which knows where the poor are and how to reach them through its network of parishes.

For our present covid crisis, Caritas Manila is accepting donations to provide CARITAS LIGTAS COVID KIT (each costing P2,000) which consists of 1 liter 70% ethyl alcohol, 5 pcs 30ml handy bottle alcohol, 5 pcs washable facemask, 1 liter antibacterial liquid soap, 1 box (100 tab) vitamin c with zinc, 1 pair reusable gloves, 1 liter liquid bleach, 3 pcs cleaning cloth, and 1 pc eco bag.
In addition, Caritas Manila also gives away the MANNA FOOD BAG (each costing P700) which contain 5 kilos of rice, 9 assorted canned goods, 6 pcs instant noodles, ¼ kilo sugar, ¼ kilo salt, ¼ kilo munggo and 1 caritas eco bag.

If you want to donate to Caritas Manila, its savings account name is CARITAS MANILA, INC with the following account numbers: BDO savings account 000-5600-45905, BPI savings account 3063-5357-01 and Metrobank savings account 175-3-17506954-3. You may inquire at 8562 0020 to 25 local 118,139,135 or 09175955083.

Now is the time to love – our loved ones and those in need!

Broderick Pabillo
March 21, 2020