As we await the joyous celebration of the coming of our Lord at Christmas, we’re experiencing these weeks of Advent with a rising sense of hope that the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is in view.
The arrival this week of the first vaccines against Covid-19 is an answered prayer.
“Healing is coming,” said the ICU nurse in Queens who was the first American to get vaccinated on Monday.
It was a simple phrase, but it was right on target.
Coinciding with the approach of Christmas and the light that the holy day brings to the world, this remarkable medical achievement reminds us that our faith in God will carry us through even the darkest times.
At a Vatican Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, Pope Francis said the image of baby Jesus nestled in the manger is a much-needed reminder during the pandemic that God gives the world the gift of hope in troubled times.
And make no mistake, the novel coronavirus that continues to rage around the world has exposed the vulnerabilities of humanity as few other enemies have in our lifetime. An invisible attacker, it has endangered our health, our businesses and economy, our social interactions and the way we go about our daily lives, including our holiday celebrations.
It’s no surprise that the rise of deaths, illnesses and hospitalizations announced each day has contributed to widespread feelings of hopelessness and, in some cases, denial that the virus even exists.
We hope—indeed, we expect—that all of that will change as we enter the New Year.
Hope, after all, is a Christian imperative. Jesus came to us as an infant in Bethlehem and He accompanies us now as we navigate the challenges and trials of life.
Yes, there are anxieties surrounding the vaccine rollout, from worries about its safety and effectiveness to whether there’ll be enough to go around. Polls indicate that a sizable number of people will choose not to be vaccinated, for a variety of reasons.
Addressing such concerns among American Catholics, the U.S. bishops said in a statement on Monday, as the vaccine rollout began, that receiving it should be understood as “an act of charity toward the other members of our community.”
“In this way, being vaccinated safely against Covid-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good,” the bishops’ statement said.
We’d like to double down on that and urge our fellow New Yorkers to sign up for vaccinations as soon as they’re eligible to do so. It’s likely to take months to get through our entire population, but as more and more people are inoculated the virus will start to run out of hosts to infect.
The world desperately needed a miracle this year, just as we need to mark the miracle of Jesus’ birth every year.
As he lit the Vatican tree, Pope Francis said, “Jesus is our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort.”
Yes, He is.
We wish all of our readers a healthy, safe and joyful Christmas.