By Sr Melissa Dwyer
UNDENIABLY, we are living in a critical moment in the history of humanity, with the pandemic of coronavirus getting progressively worse on an international scale.
As well as physical illness, fear is crippling millions of people across the world.
As we reach the extent in Australia where people fight over toilet paper, I find myself each morning waking up to check the news and see how far the virus has spread across the world during the night.
In the midst of this global crisis, as we pre- pare for potentially increased methods of self- preservation in Australia, we are left to consider, what does all of this mean for the poor?
We can shut our schools, stop sporting events and rush out to buy face masks, but none of this impacts significantly on the most vulnerable in our local communities.
Those who are marginalised and in need, starting with our elderly and homeless, are at the greatest risk.
As some embark on 14 days of self-isolation, hundreds of thousands of people live in constant self-isolation in our country and struggle with the daily plight of loneliness.
As we see other countries in the world urging people to stay in their homes, what about the 120,000 Australians who have no home to stay in?
As people of faith, the question remains for us, how can we be even more conscious of the needs of the marginalised as coronavirus cases continue to increase?
How can we continue to be other-centred in considering not only our own well-being, but striving to find ways to include those whom society can tend to overlook?
There is no easy answer to this situation. Pope Francis invites us to “live this difficult moment with the strength of the faith, the certainty of hope and the ardour of charity”.
If we are able, now more than ever we are called to reach out in concrete ways to those who have less than ourselves.
But perhaps the most significant thing we can do is turn to prayer.
At the very least, we are encouraged to be aware not only of ourselves, but of what coronavirus means for the poor.
We can bring them to God in our prayer, conscious that in this moment we need to be not only people equipped with hand sanitiser, but also equipped with deep faith that God is in control, and that He will find a way to provide for His people.
Let us use this uncertain moment to unite together in prayer for those who are most vulner- able in our country and in our world.
Let us not allow fear to overwhelm us, but rather, let us deepen our trust in God, who reminds us that with Him, anything is possible.
Sr Melissa Dwyer is a religious sister of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in Brisbane.