Christian Response in the Midst of COVID-19: Reawakening the Pauline Injunction (Rom. 13:1-5)

By: Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza (Catholic Bishop of Yola)

We live in disturbing times due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has befallen us in the world today. The very threat to life, worship and general day practice have all been disrupted. This is all in a desperate bid to stop the spread of the disease around the world. Signs and symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may appear two to 14 days after exposure. This time after exposure and before having symptoms is called the incubation period. Common signs and symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Tiredness

Other symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Chest pain

Other less common symptoms have been reported, such as rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.

Some religious leaders have shown that they believe a Christian response to the global emergency involves steps such as making allowances for their congregations to carry on with their worship by wearing face masks, using hand sanitizers and observing social distance. Others on the opposite divide think that WHO with the connivance of governments of various nations have conspired to frustrate the practice of religion through the issuance of public-health guidelines and their enforcements. The reasons behind the refusal of some to comply with these directives arise from the fact that they feel social distancing affects their right to free movement, while others feel that, The child of God can fear no ill; his chosen dread no fore from the popular Christian Hymnal in order to disregard the government directives. You can listen to the song below:

Prevention is Better than Cure

Although there is no vaccine available to prevent COVID-19, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. WHO and NCDC recommend following these precautions for avoiding COVID-19:

  • Avoid large events and mass gatherings.
  • Avoid close contact (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
  • Stay home as much as possible and keep distance between yourself and others (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters), especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness. Keep in mind some people may have COVID-19 and spread it to others, even if they don’t have symptoms or don’t know they have COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your face with a cloth face mask in public spaces, such as the grocery store, where it’s difficult to avoid close contact with others, especially if you’re in an area with ongoing community spread. Only use non medical cloth masks — surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for health care providers.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue. Wash your hands right away.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, towels, bedding and other household items if you’re sick.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics and counters, daily.
  • Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care. Avoid public transportation, taxis and ride-sharing if you’re sick..

Pauline Injunction: “Obey Those in Authority” (Rom. 13:1-5)

13 All of you must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed. Those who do that will be judged. If you do what is right, you won’t need to be afraid of your rulers. But watch out if you do what is wrong! You don’t want to be afraid of those in authority, do you? Then do what is right, and you will be praised. The one in authority serves God for your good. But if you do wrong, watch out! Rulers don’t carry a sword for no reason at all. They serve God. And God is carrying out his anger through them. The ruler punishes anyone who does wrong. You must obey the authorities. Then you will not be punished. You must also obey them because you know it is right”.

I call on all Christians to heed to the wise counsel of social distancing; frequent handwashing or use of sanitizers and face masks and other basic public hygiene practices to curb the spread of the dreaded Covid-19. As people of faith we continue to pray for God’s intervention to cure those already infected, to prevent the spread of the disease and grant eternal rest to the deceased. We continue to pray for the medical personnel working to assist the sick and for the hospital chaplains giving hope and accompanying the dying especially in the last moments.

Be assured of my prayers now and always!

Peace be with you!!

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