The Corner

Religion

A Different Kind of Saint Patrick’s Day: Coronavirus Strips Away the Non-essentials

A few people pray at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan following the outbreak of the coronavirus, March 16, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

It’s certainly a weird St. Patrick’s Day by our typical standards. But, on the other hand, it’s been stripped of the unessentials. I confess, a few years ago, I made the mistake of turning on my beloved NYC’s parade on NBC and cringed much of the way through. I was likely in tears before I turned it off. Commentators were hard-pressed to know that there were religious roots to the celebration, and of course, had no idea what they were about.

A friend was talking to me about all that is going on, in the kind of astonishment that many are feeling. He pointed out that in the last Mass that he will probably be attending for weeks if not months on Sunday, the Gospel was about Jesus and the woman at the well. She’s thirsting. He’s thirsty. These are typical takeaways and have such added meaning right now. But what about this? Jesus says to her:

“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand…. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

St. Patrick, meanwhile, was all about the Trinity, as his Lorica makes clear. Maybe some of the opportunity of these days for Christians is to discover just what the Trinity means for our lives, and how we love one another — and everyone we encounter. These days, that may mean the neighbors we are just getting to begin to know, people we haven’t talked to in a long while, people we don’t even know, but appreciate are working on the front lines. They are people in government whom we might not agree with on a single matter of policy, but who we want wisdom for, for the sake of the common good.

So, maybe this is really our first St. Patrick’s Day, for many of us. We’re seeing what it is beyond the corned beef and green beer. And for the sake of all, we do want to see and get this right.

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