National Suffering 

The Book of Exodus records an ancient people's experience with slavery under a foreign power's might. After centuries of longing for freedom and a homeland, an opportunity emerged for the captive Israelites to reclaim self-governance. However, a problem arises when the mass migration discovers that indigenous Canaanites occupy the territory God promised. Whenever fortunes lead to prosperity, liberated citizenry often behaves no better than its captors. Victims of abuse and oppression, often replicate the entrenched circumstances of their oppressors. The divine mandate driving this Exodus' project does not endorse the removal or assimilation of the local inhabitants occupying the designated territory. A false understanding of distinct society pushes the Children of Israel's nationalist sentiment forward, justified through an underdeveloped religious lens. Historically, various state-sanctioned flavors of colonialism discovered a partner in religious expansionism. Scripture and history tell stories of entire nations enslaved by their more powerful neighbors. The Pentateuch narratives also described political and sacramental struggles while transitioning from dependence to sovereignty.

COVID-19's grip on the world shows a resurgence of nationalist sentiment, as wealthy nations scatter towards self-preservation, leaving poorer ones to fend for themselves. Justice and equity are hallmarks of evangelism that sometimes get left behind when nationalism rises to the fore. In solidarity, the Roman Catholic Church advocates on behalf of the world's poorer nations admonishing with sternness any negligence on the part of wealthy peoples to neglect justice.

          Wealthy nations have a grave moral responsibility towards those who cannot ensure the means of                      their development by themselves, prohibited from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in                      solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the rich nations' prosperity has come from the                resources not paid for fairly.[1]

The word "colony" derives from the Latin' colonus,' which means people who cultivate or work the land. Western Canadian settlement emerged in public policy hoping to attract farming families to the vast virgin prairie. Immigrants attained a commission to populate and permanently settle, already occupied indigenous territory in exchange for citizenship, security, and a degree of autonomy. Colonialism generated a lasting phenomenon whereby distinct peoples' rights to a decent living environment were forced to succumb to a dominant power's aggression.

 

The nature of colonies fundamentally attaches people to a specific region on Mother Earth. Imperialism originates in the Latin term, "imperium," meaning to command. These language nuances address how nations exercise power through settlement, sovereignty, or indirect control mechanisms. Imperialism imposes a cultural posture that justifies a dominant nation's disputed claim for exporting way of life on other people. In a broad sense, imperialism refers to the economic, military, political, and cultural preponderance achieved without a significant permanent settlement. Kohn (2006), in her book, Colonialism, also believes it is necessary to point out this critical distinction, suggesting that these terms are regularly, but mistakenly interchanged. The confusion that arises in linguistics errors brings little solace to nations suffering under oppression. Still, colonialism and imperialism spliced together in the same movement represent a powerful and enduring global force.

Through a dynamic and complex web of relationships, communities are continually shaped by each period's political, social, and environmental happenings. Circumstantial events designate various roles individuals assume as they experience life bonded by a standard values system. Polarizing thinking operates near the fringes of society prying open closed communities. Status quo advocates, identify similar hegemonic conditions, but are determined to fortify and protect their respective and entrenched practices. The Universal Church attempts to bring harmony and inclusivity while admittedly, sometimes entangling itself in secularism's diverse social, environmental, and economic activity. When status- quo defenders encounter the people of renewal, the two often clash with intense resistance. Through the struggles that ensue, transformation ultimately breathes new life into stale communities and extinguishes those unable to adjust. Sacramental praxis flourishes in multifaceted and pluralistic societies. But, national parishes are also pivotal communities of practice where sacramental engagement blossoms to enrich the world.

 

Under Moses's leadership, Abraham's descendants embarked upon a long journey out of slavery. Overcoming several challenges, the sojourning people arrived at a sacred mountain named Sinai. God inscribed the emerging nation with the Torah (laws and commandments of life) upon a desert mountain. In return for restored commitment to the law, people clumsily prepared to receive some degree of national autonomy.  Many of Israel's new neighbors are agricultural-based economies, and their cultures have constructed an elaborate network of nature gods. Naturalists imagine that responsiveness to fertility gods influences their basic survival. The Children of Israel hedge their survival and prosperity on faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant and Mosaic Law. For the Jewish people, Yahweh fulfills individual and national needs as outlined in their distinct society agreement.  

Collective bargaining between Israel and God show a embryonic reward and sacrifice principle at play. At these developing levels of relationships, the signatories attempt to maximize compensation and minimize sacrifice. Regardless, Israel's relationship with God remained of paramount importance and the people came to belief that fundamental reality. While striving to uphold a sacred covenant, the Jewish nation, however, sometimes fell short and received chastising but never estrangement for their shortcomings. The God of Israel revealed Himself very much "hands-on " but merciful partner.

Public health is always of particularly concern to God. Though humankind compromised its right to eternal life by choosing rebellion, God never ceases to welcome back with mercy all who seek restored relationships. Sacraments deliver their critical expertise in both spiritual and health matters in these times. P. Daly's (2013) essay published in the National Catholic Register entitled, The Church should be a Hospital for Sinners, quoted Pope Francis, from an interview conducted for the Jesuit documentary, La Civita Catholica. The Holy Father said, "The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful: it needs nearness and proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle." The Pontiff's statement declare the Church's active respect for healthcare through charity and pastoral ministry. Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account others' needs and the common good.[2]  

 

The common good slowly awoke in the heart of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh.  Yahweh deployed an array of annoyances to disrupt Egyptian daily life and procure the release of the Israelites from bondage. Applying the social principle of subsidiary gradually led Pharaoh to believe that his nation's best interest rested with releasing the subservient people under his control.[3] Moses and his brother Aaron turned Egypt's water supply into blood contaminating vital health supply lines. Urgency rallied ingenuity but also exposed social immorality and dark forces, during this ancient Biblical health crisis.  Rapidly a workaround restored potable water to the nation's citizens, like a vaccine racing to the rescue. Moses and Aaron showed better on their next  following encounter with Pharaoh. Frogs unleashed an almost unbearable nuisance against the captors. This time Pharaoh asked for prayers, edging nearer towards granting a temporal dismissal, to the Israelites, for sacramental praxis, only. Gnats arrived next and while Scripture does not specify the insect's species, anyone resting quietly in a tent knows the torment even a single mosquito discharges. Pharaoh's magicians cannot replicate this insect plague and finally acknowledged the "finger of God" writing Israel's destiny.[4]    

 

Swarms of flies later materialized bent upon softening Pharaoh's stubbornness and God relented from the fourth plague based on the premise of prayer and mercy. Still  Pharaoh, not long afterward, returns to his hardened ways. A more severe pestilence afflicted the Egyptians livestock and economy. Pharaoh again reconsidered his position in the presence of physical beings and objects, but once out of sight, returned to his deeply entrenched values. Boils that later inflict faithful Job, first undergo prototypical testing on the Egyptians. These too fell short of generating any lasting conversion. Torrential hail and locusts, however, begin to get under the Egyptian's skin. Opposing forces grew tired of the relentless back and forth upheaval.  Under cover of darkness, the Israelites received consent to sacrifice and pray, but livestock required to stabilize any new economy, became a ransom. The multiple plagues levied against the Egyptians reached their climax with the inauguration of the first Passover. An incomprehensible death project that slays the firstborn of all the Egyptians and their livestock.[5]

 

Children of Abrahamic descent committed to living under the terms of a new covenant arrangement. Moses and Joshua, championed rebirthing of Israel through nationalist struggles. Exodus's trials teach modernity that secularism and faith need not be adversaries, especially when their interests overlap in urgent health matters. Medical science devotes enormous energy to resolving today's version of the Egyptian plagues, while COVID-19 tediously progresses around the globe.  Spiritualists and humanists can applaud medicine and science, with both stepping forward to broaden human understanding and mitigate this public health crisis.  Basic scientific and applied research are significant expressions of humankind's dominion over creation. Science and technology are also precious resources placed in the service of man and woman, for the advancement of all. By themselves, however, science and technology cannot disclose the meaning of human life. They are ordered to humankind from whom they take their origins and development; hence, they find in the person and moral structures both evidence of their purpose and awareness of their limits.[6]       

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[1] From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Ten Commandments, Article 2439.

[2] From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Ten Commandments. Article 2288.

[3] The principle of subsidiary approaches the resolution of issues form least to greatest intervention.

[4] From Exodus, 9:14.

[5] From Exodus, 7-12.

[6] From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Ten Commandments, Article 2293.

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