Covid and Our Preferential Option for the Poor

(posted: July 1 2020)

Covid and Our Preferential Option for the Poor

(Covid 19 Reflection #4)

We must never forget that the planet belongs to all mankind and is meant for all mankind;
the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development
does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity.
(Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium 190)

As I write this, in late June for publication on July 1, parts of Ontario have begun to emerge from the deepest portion of the Covid 19 lockdown. Not so here in Windsor-Essex. We remain in Stage 1; our higher rate of infection means that businesses and services will remain closed longer than in other areas. This is an inconvenience, even a hardship, for many people in my local area, but it is necessary to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

Covid 19, like other tragedies, has brought out some of our best and our worst traits. People have cared for their neighbours in ways that they hadn’t thought of doing. Essential workers have served as St. Vincent asked his followers to do ‘by the strength of their arms and the sweat of their brows.’ Everyone has been creative in how they managed work and family.

But as we become impatient with the restraints on our normal lives, there are those who would put blame on others. Windsor-Essex’s high infection rate is partly due to an outbreak in the agri-farm industry where thousands of workers from other countries are contracted each year to work on farms and in the massive greenhouses that produce a large amount of our county’s food. It is clear that the temporary workers who are ill became infected right here, in southern Ontario. Almost all were here long before Covid and any new arrivals have undergone mandatory quarantine. Yet we hear hurtful comments about ‘those people’ coming here when ‘there are people right here who aren’t willing to work’.

Both groups targeted in comments like these, the temporary workers and the unemployed, are people that Pope Francis is referring to in Evangelli Gaudium, that is, they are people with fewer resources than most in our country.

Poverty is a very complicated matter, whether it occurs in Canada, in our own communities, or in other countries. We might not be able to solve poverty but we can be kind. Kindness is simple, basic, a matter of loving our neighbors whether or not they share our languages, culture, religion or even financial status.

Jesus said,
You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart,
with your whole soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
On these two commandments the whole law is based.
Blessings to all,

Spirituality Corner

Monthly Reflections
by Denise Bondy, Chair
ONRC Spirituality Committee