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Coronavirus can help us remember what it means to be a good neighbour

Sr Jo Brady: The Gospel dictates that we need to have a concern for each other but especially the poor.

By Sr Jo Brady

AS we face a pandemic in Australia not seen since the Spanish flu a century ago when 15,000 people died, we are being confronted by distasteful images of panic buying in supermarkets.

The managers assure us there is sufficient food and essentials yet because of the panic buying we see our most vulnerable people without the essentials they require.

We are a country that has a generous supply of food and other items.

At this time when we face depleted supplies and empty shelves, perhaps we should consider all those times when a bountiful supply awaited us for selection.

We should thank God for the ease of supply, which we have always known and which will continue.

We are assured there is sufficient for all if we only buy what we need.

The Gospel dictates that we need to have a concern for each other but especially the poor.

Normal shopping will allow us to return to a more respectful period where people can shop calmly, where supermarket attendants are no longer abused, the disabled are given time and space and the shelves can be restocked so that everyone can access their basic requirements.

As the Prime Minister reminded us that this is not who we are, but sadly this is who we have become.

We are challenged to reconsider who we have become and once again embrace what it means to be truly a neighbour.

COVID-19 challenges us as a global community where the interconnectedness has led to the pandemic.

To prevent the spread, social isolation is in effect and we can use this time to reconnect with others in creative ways.

Pope Francis recently called us to “rediscover the concrete nature of small things, of making small gestures toward those around us – family and friends”.

Among ways suggested are providing a meal, a phone call or email to keep up connections for as St Teresa of Kolkata tells us “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

Let us join together to overcome isolation and fear and reclaim the best qualities of being Australian such as was evident during the bushfire crisis.

A thought from Facebook: “After all this is over all that will have really mattered is how we treated each other.”

Sr Jo Brady is a Sister of St Joseph in Australia and head of mission for Caritas Australia. Caritas Australia is the Catholic agency for international aid and development and are operating their Project Compassion appeal now. Caritas Australia is also offering support to marginalised communities affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

If you would like to donate to Project Compassion please visit Caritas Australia’s website, www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion or call 1800 024 413. Let’s Go Further, Together.

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