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Why does God let the Corona virus happen?

Bernhard Meuser
8. April 2020

God can do anything! He is all-powerful! Then why doesn't he "snip"? - and this devastating little virus, which has killed thousands of people, sent whole nations into panic and paralysis, and is foreseeably ruining the world economy, disappears in the poison cabinet of medical history?

Yes, "For God, nothing is impossible." He could if he wanted to. After all, God is the creator of the world and the one who keeps it in His being, also "the Lord of the history. He directs all things and can do everything" – how it is said YOUCAT 40. But the next sentence already says: "How he uses his omnipotence is a mystery.”

Again a secret! - some people might think in their quiet chamber: "Oh, that is such an excuse from theologians! God does not exist - you can see that! And if he does exist, he is either weak - he can do nothing - or he is disinterested. Then we don't need him at all!"

© Photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash
© Photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash

God is neither inexistent, nor weak, nor evil...

God is different. He is beyond all imagination. No man can see his cards. "My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways" (Is 55:8), says the prophet Isaiah. An old, pious priest once challenged all my faith when he said "Listen! God does not make mistakes! Do you believe that?" When I only brought out a "But ...", he looked at me strictly through rimless glasses and repeated the sentence: "God does not make mistakes! Do you believe that?" Yes. I believe it now, not least because St. Thomas Aquinas made me think: "God only allows evil to come into being in order to make something better." (YOUCAT 51)  

About the difference between fate, chance, punishment, admission and sign

If Corona were only a fate, then the disaster would be a senseless curse upon us. The last human thing to say about it is, "Tough luck! Fate is fate". On the next level of interpretation, we hear: "It is chance - a combination of unfavorable circumstances. What do you say then? "Next time we'll be smarter, then we'll cheat chance." I know of no sick person whom such an answer would ever have filled with comfort and confidence.

Is Corona perhaps a punishment from God? Is it a punishment for destroying the earth? Difficult! In the Old Testament, God punishes the sins of His people. But one must not conclude from this that everywhere where misfortune befalls people, a punishing God is behind it. In any case, Jesus did not relate the disaster of Shiloh, in which 18 people died, to the sins of the victims: "Do you think that they were guiltier than all the other inhabitants of Jerusalem? (Lk 13:4). All need repentance.

And most of the time it is the case that we ourselves produce the rubbish from which we then suffer and for which we gladly look for a scapegoat. It is more helpful to speak of God's permissions. For this is a sure knowledge of faith that there is nothing beside God - that is, nothing that He does not also permit, whether we understand it or not. In YOUCAT 49 it says: "God is in everything, which comes to us in the vicissitudes of our lives, even in the painful events and the seemingly senseless coincidences.”

© CNS Photo/Katie Rutter
Brian and Katie Rutter watch a Mass that their pastor, Fr. Tom Kovatch, livestreamed from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Bloomington, Ind., March 28, 2020. © CNS Photo/Katie Rutter

I beg your pardon? A great moment?

There is a word far more appropriate to interpret the Corona crisis from God. That word is "sign". Piety is the art of reading the handwriting of God, of deciphering His signs, in everything that happens. Could Corona - as terrible as things are - not also be a time-out decreed from above? An act of emergency rescue? A drastic stop sign preventing us from driving the planet with all its inhabitants into the abyss unchecked?

Recently, someone leaned out of the window in a letter to the editor: "Could it be a great moment for intelligent politicians who are now calling for radically new approaches for the future? ... To continue building dirt-spinning cars? Cruise ships? A few thousand more tourist planes? Why not switch to organic farming in general now?" Political opinion can be divided on one or the other. But one thing is indisputable: "The way the world is going at the moment," Pope Francis stated already in 2016 in the preface to DOCAT: "it cannot remain so. ... Entire areas are being depopulated because the poor of the world are fleeing to the slums of the metropolises in the hope of finding something to survive there. The production logic of a globalised economy has destroyed the modest economic and agricultural structures of their home regions. About one percent of the world's population now owns forty percent of the world's total wealth and ten percent of the world's population owns eighty-five. On the other hand, half the world's population 'owns' just one percent of the world. One point four billion people live on less than one euro a day.” If we hadn't gone on like this forever, wouldn't God have interrupted us? Now it is said: disturbances have priority. Maybe we can come to our senses before it's too late.

The master of the impossible

Many people will now say: I see that too. But I don't know what I can do to stop the machinery of destruction. In such moments I like to look at the saints, especially Charles de Foucauld, one of the greatest Christians of modern times. He had a remarkably bold - indeed, somehow excessive - thought of prayer: "Let us not be afraid to ask God even for the most difficult things (such as the conversion of great sinners or entire nations). Let us ask Him all the more, the more difficult they are, trusting that God loves us passionately and that a passionate lover gives all the more, the greater the gift". He thought of Jesus even greater than of prayer. Foucauld said "Jesus is the master of the impossible." ∎

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