The Gospel is not Dead
By Jodi Hunt, Affiliate Assistant Professor, Neuhoff School of Ministry
Date published: March 30, 2020
A few days ago, I came across a reflection by First Things editor, R. R. Reno, “Say
‘No’ to Death’s Dominion,” that brought to light many of the same emotions and theological
insights that I had been working to process since the start of the Covid19 crisis.
Although I agree with the heart of Reno’s observation that “we must never do evil
that good might come,” his theological reflection lost my support when he treaded
out into waters of ‘the death of the Gospel.’ In Reno’s view, the bishops, priests,
and other religious leaders who have “accepted” government decrees
to ‘shut-down’ have shown that “they too accept death’s dominion.” Evil has won. The
Gospel is dead.
“The Gospel is dead. Death is winning.” These are the words I have returned to repeatedly
as I have pondered, “is Reno right? Are our actions in response to Covid19 allowing
evil to win?” My answer remains: “No.” In fact, amid all of life’s current uncertainties,
there is one thing I am sure of, the Gospel is very much alive. And, as these last
weeks have shown, perhaps more so than it has been for decades. If you jump onto social
media, you will find Chrisatins from all denominations sharing the faith in beautiful,
creative ways. Christians are keeping the Gospel alive in any way that they can, despite
facing‘death’ and the uncertainties that still lie ahead.
Bishops, priests, and laity are more active than ever before in ensuring that the
faithful–the Body of Christ–remains in full communion with one another despite our
being unable to share (physically) in the Heavenly Host. Although we are, in the words
of Pope Francis, “living in the world that when we were young we could hardly imagine,”
the faithful have risen to the occasion of using creative means to ensure that the
Gospel remains ever present in the lives of the faithful. This ministerial work has
also created comforting shelters for those who are seeking refuge from
the pandemic storm.
So no, death and evil are not dominating our spiritual lives. For if it were, we would
not be seeing parking lot adorations, drive through reconciliations, or the administering
of last rites to those inflicted with Covid19. The sacramental life of our Church
is carrying on despite being thrown into this ‘pandemic storm,’ just as it always
has and will forever do. It may not be what we want, nor think it should be, but it
is where God wants us to be right now. And it is for this reason that I am certain
that the Gospel is not dead. Nor will it ever be.
How will you keep the Gospel alive?