Life, Death, and the Message of the Coronavirus

It has been rightly said that this is not a good time to die.

Or even to be sick in the hospital.

In both cases you are alone. Regardless of whether you feel it in one and not in the other.

I read the death announcements published in The National Herald – they are among the first things I read each day – which announce that funerals will take place “for close family members due the pandemic measures.”

It cannot be otherwise.

At least with the publication of the death notice, the deceased does not pass unnoticed. His/Her people can express their pain, their grief over the one they have lost. They can honor him/her, record his/her passage through life and close his/her book of life with dignity.

But it is also tragic to be isolated in the hospital. To not be able to communicate with anyone. Not even with your closest loved ones. Not even with your nurses. To be completely alone in life.

As human beings, we are living through a Golgotha. However, this week is Holy Week and therefore there is a hope that comes with the Resurrection Service.

But what does Easter look like with closed churches?

What does it look like at Midnight on Holy Saturday without lighting our candles and marking the Resurrection with Christos Anesti. What does Easter look like on Sunday without our lambs being roasted and gathering at home with relatives and friends?

How can we celebrate the Resurrection when many of us don’t have jobs, have closed our businesses, and are worried about the future?

And how do we celebrate Easter when we see clearly this year that neither in life nor in death are we equal as humans?

When the wealthy can stay home, and can keep their 6-foot distance, and shop every week, and get their medicines – but the poor cannot?

I don’t know why the coronavirus struck us. However, I note that this is not the first time humanity has been thus stricken. Life is a cycle. Sometimes with a broader circumference and sometimes with a smaller one. Sometimes it takes many years for the circle to close in on us, and other times we are quickly squeezed by fate.

The last time humans were hit by a comparable pandemic was 100 years ago.

One would have thought that would have been the last time. After all, the world doesn’t even look like it did in 1918. Science and technology have made breathtaking advances since then.

And yet.

Yes, a deadly virus has landed among us. To humble us. To remind us that we are few, weak, and small people. To show us that all the gold on Earth and all the honors and glories we accumulate are incapable of protecting us from a virus.

It came to remind us that yes, the message of Christ leading to Golgotha is all-powerful and eternal. And no matter how much some of us – or sometimes all of us – like to think it has nothing to do with the life we live, or with our health concerns, something comes along to remind us that it is not like that at all.


Three newspapers: Apogveumatini and Macedonia (Salonika) and the National Herald (New York) reported on June 20 and July 10, 1936, regarding the detention of Greek prisoners of war some 14 years after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in July, 1923.

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