Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
With the ongoing lessons of Covid-19, where a tiny and invisible virus brought the human earth to its knees, we now know that the invisible is powerful and can be destructive. The fact that we cannot see something is not an argument for its non-existence. We cannot see viruses with the naked eyes, but they exist nonetheless! Yes, we have manufactured microscopes to help the human eyes to see viruses, yet we have no control over their nefarious and devastating effects on us. We have human knowledge about viruses, but we cannot prevent their occasional outbreaks. Our knowledge of viruses have not prevented them from infecting human beings and from spreading. Today, the whole world accepts the importance of discipline and laws to keep the human race alive against the menace of a ravaging virus—Covid-19. The fear of death keeps check on the majority of us; of course, a hand-full takes its chances with Covid-19. All of a sudden, what others do or do not do matter to and for us, because the majority of us do not want to die! If Coronavirus so terrifies human beings, how about Sinovirus or sin-virus?
Sin is invisible and more invisible than a virus. There is no human microscope with which to see and look at it. It is beyond human technological mastery. Like a virus, we feel its killing effects, when it attacks the body and the soul. We see the effect of sin-virus in a person, when he/she goes on a killing spree: killing infants in the womb, killing adults in wars, raping women as instruments of war and domination, stealing the resources of militarily weak countries, reaping off workers, separating children from parents and dividing families on the basis of visa, encamping human migrants in deplorable situations, etc. Sinovirus or sin-virus is invisible but it’s effects are real and palpable. Yet, no human vaccine has brought human beings together to inoculate themselves against sin-virus. We accept democratic freedoms and every human beings’ choice of how to deal with sin-virus, but that freedom is denied to Covid-19: why?
Sin-virus is the destruction of virtues and the dominance of vices.
Sinovirus or sin-virus attacks the human mind first, then human behavior manifests it in action. Sin-virus is the destruction of virtues and the dominance of vices. A sinovirus patient is detected through his or her behavior. The pathological effects of Sinovirus is the hatred of others and the transformation of others into tools for self-aggrandizements. A fatal state of Sinovirus is the proclivity to dole out legislations to promote vices and rejoice in their (vices’) destructive reign. Indeed, Sinovirus has a remedy, it is called conversion/repentance and the inculcation of virtues.
First Sunday of Lent or Conversion Sunday is a clarion call on all and sundry to rise up against the normalization of vices and the free reign of sin-virus. The time-tested treatment for sin-virus is the sanitization of the human mind, hijacked by vices and evil desires. Conversion is the recognition and admission that the invisible matters—God. Repentance is the surrender of the legislative power to God and his commandments; the modeling of earthly citizenship on a heavenly one—the regime of virtues, especially those of love, faith, hope, prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude.
Our first reading provides us with the pandemic pathological consequence of Sinovirus—The Flood. The near extermination of the human race, except Noah’s Family and few animals, is a hindsight lesson of the power of Sinovirus. But more powerful that Sinovirus is the antidote to it—repentance! Besides the destruction of the biblical deluge, conversion is possible. The human person is redeemable. In fact, the antidote to Sinovirus is Jesus Christ. The vaccination for and inoculation against Sinovirus is remodeling the human mind after Jesus Christ’s example. There is a standard human behavior that averts Sinovirus—the imitation of Jesus Christ. By imitating Jesus Christ, the mindset hijacked by sin-virus gets liberated, and its virtues restored.
The Truth must be set free, if we must rid ourselves of sin-virus. The imprisonment of the Truth about Sinovirus, like the imprisonment of John-the-Baptist of today’s gospel, must be rejected decisively. The liberation of the Truth is the first doze of the antidote to Sinovirus. The Truth is Jesus Christ. John-the-Baptist was imprisoned to shut him up from telling the Truth, from talking about Jesus Christ—Incarnated-Truth—against the vices of the community, especially the human leadership. John-the-Baptist’s moral challenge to Herod and Herodias landed him in prison and his head chopped off! For sure, Sinovirus has its human victims and casualties—the manufacturers of Conversion-vaccine. To propose repentance today is to be considered an outlaw, homophobic, anti-democratic and anti-rights.
Conversion Sunday is an invitation to enlist as an antidote to Sinovirus, to become a crusader for the Truth, Jesus Christ. An effective antidote is a repented person helping others to repent. An antidote to sin-virus is a person ready for imprisonment like John-the-Baptist, and someone who readily sticks out his/her neck to be slit by the sword of Sinovirus promoters. According to our second reading, our baptism and citizenship as children of God makes us willing martyrs in the fight against Sinovirus. We must avoid being contaminated by Sinovirus and willingly turn ourselves into Sinovirus vaccine campaigners—the proclamation of Jesus Christ and the imitation of his life as the only viable and potent vaccine against sin!
By Fr. Ayodele Ayeni, a Spiritan