IF Jesus were here on earth today, he would be much concerned about the thousands of people suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
And if he were here in Los Angeles, he would most likely go to the low-income neighborhoods of Central Los Angeles, which has some of the highest death rates from COVID-19. There, he would minister to the people to hear their cries and pleas and comfort their pain.
He would visit every grieving family of these communities to show the depth of his solidarity with them and to grant them hope that the death of their loved one is not the end. He would assure them of God’s promise of eternal life.
Indeed, the CDC and major news outlets report that COVID-19 has badly hit California’s impoverished communities. Recent studies of CDC say:
“There is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Inequities in the social determinants of health such as poverty ad healthcare access affecting these groups are interrelated and influence a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. To achieve health equity, barriers must be removed so that everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible.”
It’s most likely true for Imperial County in California. LA Times reported last Tuesday: “In California, Imperial has been the county worst hit by COVID.”
The paper states: “The pandemic has brought and an unprecedented level of hardship for residents in a county where the coronavirus hardly feels like an abstraction. The high infection rates can make it feel as though nearly everyone knows or knows of someone who has contracted COVID-19 or died of it.”
Those of us who live in other areas of California must also show our solidarity with the inhabitants of the impoverished regions significantly hit by the coronavirus. Along with our prayers, we should find other ways to help them.
We cannot be merely be feeling happy that the community where we live has not suffered the worst. Like Jesus in the Gospel, whose heart was moved with pity as seeing his people’s struggle, we must also feel the pain of other people.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.