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May 22, 2020 Friday 08:53:56 PM IST

In the Hands of God


Where are you sitting now?” I asked the school children during a school Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Palm Coast, Florda in July 2019. As this question was not expected they had a quizzical look in their eyes. I repeated the question with a smile. Slowly several hands went up. When I nodded at them they said together, “We are sitting in the church.” “Where is this church?” I asked them the next moment. “In Palm Coast,” they replied immediately. Then I went on to ask them a series of questions and they gave me quick answers.

“Where is Palm Coast?” “In Flagler county.”

“Where is “Flagler county?”

“In Florida.”

“Where is Florida?” “In the United States.”

“Where is the United States?” “In the North American Continent.”

“Where is the North American Continent?” “On earth.”

“Where is earth?” “In the Solar System.”

“Where is the Solar System?”

“In the Milky Way.”

“Where is the Milky Way?” “In the universe.”

“And where is the universe?”

Moments of silence. They began to look at one another wondering what the answer would be. Until now they were doing very well; they had the right answers. “Tell me, where is the universe?” I repeated the question. Immediately I saw a little girl raise her hand. Approaching her, I extended the microphone. “In God’s hands,” she said with an air of authority in her voice! Suddenly there was a burst of thunderous applause, especially from teachers and parents who were present. “Yes, you are right,” I agreed. “The universe is in the hands of God. Congratulations for your wonderful answer!” Again there was a round of applause.

My questions were not original. I was only imitating a set of questions asked by Emperor Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786) centuries ago when he visited a class room while going around his empire. But what surprised me was that every time I ask this question to children, regardless of whether they are in the US or in India or in any other part of the world, they always give me the same answer ‘the universe is in the hands of God’.

If the universe is in the hands of God it means we are all in the hands of God. If we are all in the hands of  God it means he is carrying us close to his bosom even when COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc all over the world, destroying human lives and economies. Of course, “who will not fear when the lion roars” (Amos 3:8) in the form of a novel Coronavirus causing a global COVID-19 outbreak? But we need not fear. Like the Psalmist let us confidently trust in God and say,  “Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

Yes, God is with us comforting us and giving us strength; more than that, he is always carrying us in his hands. Hence, let us totally trust in his love and mercy and surrender our lives into his hands. While we do so let also listen to his words spoken through Prophet Isaiah, “Go, my people, enter your chambers, and close your door; hide for a moment until the wrath passes” (26-20). To avoid catching the dreadful Coronavirus we are asked by authorities to stay home among other things, like social distancing, washing hands and not touching our face. In other words, we are asked to quarantine ourselves “until the wrath passes.”

According to medical experts, without “self-quarantine” we will not be able to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus. While we do this faithfully we should also remember to quarantine our souls from all sinful pleasures, and to purify and sanctify our souls through repentance, prayer, penance and the meditative reading of the Sacred Scriptures. This is very important because without radical positive changes in our life our souls will remain sick even when the whole world becomes free of the Coronavirus.

Jose Panthaplamthottiyil

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