A message in hope and solidarity

April 14, 2020

(Photo by Grant Whitty)

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, Pastor William A. Lawson and Rabbi Sam Karff, who have been regularly honored for their interfaith ministries, wrote an editorial that was published April 3 in the Houston Chronicle.

In this era of coronavirus, we offer words of hope and solidarity for consideration in these unsettling times.

We are facing a new challenge and an uncertain future which requires citizens to withdraw from public life during this time of pandemic. The Jewish and Christian traditions which we profess are in solid agreement that trust in God is the ultimate antidote for any fear or anxiety caused by this human tragedy.

The difficulty and disruption of our daily lives with quarantine at home and observing social distancing when we must buy food or engage in other essential activities, as well as frequent hand washings, is necessary for the common good, and are a witness to human solidarity which will prevail over COVID-19. Even worship should be done safely at home using video, teleconferencing or livestreaming in accord with your religious tradition.

We sometimes feel that God is absent from us but in faith and experience, we know that God is concerned about our daily lives with their challenges and trials. We believe that God sometimes seems so distant from us, but we also know moments when God seems closer to us than our own breath.

God is with us even when we are wandering in the desert, and leads us through the Red Sea to freedom, from slavery to a new era. Indeed, we believe that the overarching belief of our different traditions is that God loves us, and we best show our love for our Creator in loving all people, beginning with the most vulnerable and needy among us.

We remember in prayer those who have died from this disease and extend our loving concern and support to their families and friends.

We appeal to all people of faith and good will to live this new era of coronavirus with serenity of mind and heart, and with the conviction that nothing is impossible with God. United in prayer and faithfully observing the guidelines of healthcare professionals and the local and state civil authorities, we will emerge from this pandemic a stronger community with great concern for the health and welfare of all in the human family.

With deep gratitude we honor the courageous doctors, nurses, medical personnel, volunteers and all first responders whose efforts keep the community safe from this pernicious disease and mitigate its spread. We are mindful that all are potentially vulnerable to this new virus.

May gracious God bless them in their dangerous work and give them the joy and consolation of knowing they are truly doing the work of the Holy One in eliminating this modern worldwide plague. Those who extend a helpful hand today may be in need of such assistance in coming days.