What does ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ look like in a lockdown scenario? This is a question that has been with me in recent days and that continues to challenge. In the face of government and medical advice to socially distance or even isolate ourselves completely, how do we continue to fulfil that most urgent and fundamental of commandments? To a cradle Catholic brought up on parables such as the Good Samaritan, to be told to avoid contact with others deliberately and cross over to the other side of the street feels painfully counter-intuitive even when the clear and essential reasons for it are understood.
One of the cruellest aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic seems to be that, at a time when the consolation of human contact is needed by so many more than ever, it is the very thing that we are asked to forego. What form can love take when deprived of its touch, its immediacy, its flesh and bones? How do I still respond compassionately and humanely to the needs of others around me, even though physically separated from them?
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Tim McEvoy is a spiritual director at St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre in North Wales.
With thanks to Thinking Faith, the online journal of the Jesuits in Britain, and Tim McEvoy, where this article originally appeared.