During the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 numerous, unmasked protestors gathered together in public places insisting on their right to freely assemble without governmental restrictions. They know they are violating state and federal laws requiring people to self-quarantine in their homes and when running essential errands to wear face masks and to maintain a six-foot social distancing regulation. These protestors reject the advice of the medical care professionals and infectious disease experts. They claim that their First Amendment Rights to our nation’s Bill of Rights are being violated by governmental regulations for the suppression of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their reckless behavior endangers the lives of at least three others with whom they come in contact. Should they be held responsible for someone’s infection and possible death? Are they carrying the virus to family members, friends, and associates? Are we not supposed to be our brother’s keeper not the transmitter of Covid-19?
When the day comes that they contract this virus, let alone the number of people they may have infected, should the over-worked medical profession treat them first or the innocent, law-abiding citizens who contracted Covid-19 through no fault of their own? Decisions like these have to be made daily in life.
Can we let the self-centered behavior of others sabotage our present and future well-being? In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus compares admission to the kingdom of heaven by telling the parable of the wise and foolish maidens who took their lamps with them to meet the arriving bridegroom. The wise maidens took flasks of oil with them for their lamps. The foolish maidens did not. The bridegroom was delayed. When he finally arrived, the foolish maidens had no oil left and asked the wise ones to give them some.
But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Often unexpected burdens are thrust upon us. Sometimes we do not know how to resolve the dilemma of what we should do. What is our responsibility as God’s children? Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish maidens reminds me of the Covid-19 protestors and others who go racing through life, grabbing what they can from others without any care or thought to the consequences of their actions. They always expect someone to bail them out of any trouble they might get themselves into as though all privileges and help are their due rather than a gift.
Plastered on many college administration offices is a sign that says: “Your poor planning does not constitute a crisis for me.” The foolish maidens can be compared to carefree, freeloaders that exist in most societies. They go through life unprepared and take no responsibility for the consequences of their actions. God is the bridegroom in this parable. The foolish maidens are not ready or prepared for meeting God. They are expecting someone else to help save them. They expect God to let them into the bridal feast no matter what their behavior or excuses may be. But God shuts the door to the bridal feast for the unprepared and the unrepentant.
Likewise, we should not let our valuable energies and medical resources be directed toward helping those who refuse to take responsibility for their lives and their own behavior. Hysterics and irresponsibility on the part of some people is a way of controlling and manipulating others and making them responsible for the hysterical person’s well-being and dependency.
Jesus told the parable of the wise and foolish maidens for His hearers either to accept or reject His message. He did not try to manipulate or be held responsible for other people’s behavior and decisions.
We, too, cannot allow others to control our behavior and our future through sabotage or hostage-like activities. Let me give you an example. After one of my parishioners had her hip replaced, I visited her in the hospital. The woman in the bed next to her refused to do anything to help herself. Her family stood by helplessly wringing their hands while the medical staff tried to motivate the sick woman into action. This sick woman had everybody exactly where she wanted them. Contrasted to her was my elderly parishioner walking around with discomfort and pain.
You see, we need to be able to separate legitimate needs such as incapacitation, mental and physical illness, from self-induced manufactured needs and their subsequent consequences. Also, we cannot do for others what they must learn to do for themselves. Otherwise we deprive them of their growth and independence. Motivation determines how we climb the hills and descend into the valleys of our lives.
Think About It
• During the Covid-19 pandemic, should unmasked demonstrators be allowed to gather together in a mass protest to the violation of their First Amendment rights? What makes you think so?
• What is their responsibility for protecting the vulnerable?
• Who should care for these demonstrators when they become ill with Covid-19?