Vaccines, masks, love, and religion

Back in the early months of 2020, we were introduced to a novel coronavirus. We knew quickly that it would make history. We did not understand that far from witnessing history in the making, we would be the ones making and shaping it. 

Nearly a year and a half later, we are older, wiser, and weary of this pandemic. Still, it has not tired of trying us. So here we are, trying once more to turn back the tide of novel variants, with the help of vaccinations, masks, and physical distancing. Handwashing is the order of the day, but we cannot wash our hands of this virus or our responsibility to love our neighbours by looking out for their safety as well as our own.

2 Thessalonians 3:13: “Brothers and sisters [and siblings], do not be weary in doing what is right.”

Yes, this has gone on longer than any of us imagined. No, it is not over yet. Yes, we are still responsible, each of us, for playing our part, moving history toward better health.

If you do become sick, do not despair. The prayers of angels surround you, and the love and mercy of God, God’s rod and staff will be faithful to you, in sickness and in health, to the end of the ages.

1 Peter 5:8-9: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters [and siblings] in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.”

Like a demon, this virus prowls around looking for someone to devour. Deny it houseroom, as far as you can help it; keep alert, practice good mask discipline, protect yourself and in doing so help protect others from catching it from you.

Matthew 4:5-7: “Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” 
and “On their hands they will bear you up, 
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’ 
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’”

We have safety nets in place to help guard against this disease. Do not side with temptation. Vaccines prevent an impressive proportion of infections, and protect even those who do fall ill from the most serious consequences, in most cases.

These vaccines have been tested and approved in the midst of a public health emergency. They have been successfully and safely taken up by millions of people so far. Including me.

The vaccines are distributed for free – no small miracle itself in this cynically capitalist society. “Yes, your vaccination is free. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status,” says the CDC (emphasis added).

Matthew 18:5-7 “[Jesus said] ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!’”

We know that, as of just now, children younger than 12 are not eligible for COVID vaccinations, even as they head back to school. Likewise, people with certain health conditions may not receive the full benefits of vaccination, either because they cannot take it, or because of diminished uptake by their own immune systems.

Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, Jesus reminds us; the risk of illness remains for anyone breathing during these dangerous times. No one should be blamed or shamed for falling sick. But we should all be doing what we can to interrupt this invidious disease, not only for our own sakes but in order not to become a vector for another’s illness. I got vaccinated in no small part because I would not want to become a stumbling block to a child’s or another’s health and safety.

1 Corinthians 12:14,18-22,26-27: “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. … But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ One the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable … If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

For the love of Christ, let’s take care of this body, with tenderness, respect, selflessness, wisdom, and love, so that in good time and good health, we may rejoice together.


Scriptures referenced from the NRSV

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books, 2020). She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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1 Response to Vaccines, masks, love, and religion

  1. This is really helpful. Thank you, Rosalind.

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