In this Sunday’s gospel, we have the opportunity to reflect on our faith. When Jesus asks Peter to walk on the water, Peter becomes fearful, crying out “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stretches out his hand to catch Peter and responds, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I have been Peter in so many situations, doubting God’s plan for me and for the world, especially in the midst of this unprecedented global pandemic.
In this time of coronavirus, it can be difficult to have faith in anyone. We are constantly being inundated with information that seems to change every day. What is the most credible or objective source? Nobody, not even the experts, seems to know how to tackle the virus. This sense of distrust and confusion has even trickled down to individual relationships. I find myself being wary and judgmental of other people. “Have they been social distancing? I can’t believe they were willing to take that risk,” I think to myself, as if I know best. Rather than resorting to this divisive judgment, I should turn to compassion, as we are all figuring out how to best navigate this crisis while still living our lives.
As an education major beginning my student teaching year this fall, the doubt and questions continue. Is it safe for students and teachers to return to school in person? Is it safe for students and parents to continue online learning from home? I hear a different opinion from every news article, blog, and conversation.
With this whirlwind of information and still no concrete end to the pandemic in sight, it can be difficult to continue being diligent with COVID-19 restrictions. I often find myself drowning like Peter, losing faith that my efforts against the virus make a difference and that life will ever return to a semblance of normalcy.
However, I must remember that the minor inconveniences of social distancing and wearing a mask are acts of love that not only protect ourselves and our loved ones but those most vulnerable to the virus. This pandemic has further exposed the ways that systemic discrimination plays out in our society with communities of color being disproportionately affected.
It’s difficult to have faith in any particular person or source for guidance during this crazy time, but I can always rely on Jesus—not for a magical cure for COVID-19 but maybe for strength, resilience, and a renewed spirit to remain committed to justice in the midst of my own struggles. Although we may not see immediate results from our individual actions, the fight against coronavirus, like most social justice work, requires a sustained, collective effort. It’s infinitely bigger than myself.
When we feel weary, fearful, or frustrated by this struggle, we can turn to our faith in God. My high school theology teacher once wrote to me, “Faith is a bedrock of sorts, a sense of stability, that one source of consistency for which you can draw your strength and inspiration in the midst of the chaos and busyness of everyday life”— exactly what we need during this time of uncertainty.
Josie Schuman is a former ISN intern and graduate of John Carroll University. She is currently a member of the Urban Catholic Teacher Corp at Boston College, pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction while teaching 5th grade English. Josie is passionate about faith-based antiracist education and hopes to inspire students of color to use reading and writing as tool for social change.