GLOBAL PANDEMIC

Lots of us have an image of Jesus etched into our subconscious. A religious law maker who wafted around completely disconnected from real life. That’s not the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. The real Jesus was a defender of the isolated, the infected and the sick. If he walked the streets today, you’d find him in the clinics and the hospitals. The Royal Victoria Military Hospital was destroyed by a fire that ripped through it in 1963. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1856 and a few million bricks later it was the longest building and the biggest hospital in the world at that time.

During the First World War hospital ships docked near it in Southampton to offload wounded men from the carnage of the Western Front. Towards the end of the war it all changed as soldiers began arriving here not because they were wounded but because they were infected. Millions of malnourished men living at close quarters in the squalor of the trenches had no resistance to the rampant spread of a virus. The first people to blow the cover off this hushed up crisis worked for the uncensored media in neutral Spain. That’s why it became known as Spanish Flu.

When the troops came home in November 1918 many were already incubating the virus and passed it on to a population that was physically weak from a chronic shortage of food and medicine. It then spread to every corner of the globe, infecting a quarter of the world’s population. Spanish Flu killed more people than the First World War and in less than a quarter of the time. During the war years the priority was to get essential supplies to the soldiers on the front line. Next were the well-placed families back home, leaving the vulnerable exposed at the back of the food queue. And so, multitudes died from Spanish Flu because our society was infected with another virus, selfishness.

2,000 years ago, Jesus confronted similar problems. A corrupt society and a disease that shattered communities. Infected people were avoided, treated as outcasts and shoved aside as unclean. Not just that, anyone who touched them was also unclean as a result. The real Jesus had no regard for the corrupt laws, he couldn’t care less because he cared more, more about the frightened and the forgotten. Jesus worked with the lepers close up and when he touched the infected, he didn’t get what they had, they got what he had.

The real Jesus still reaches out to the abandoned at the end of the food queue. Whether or not you believe in God let me tell you something you may not know, God believes in you.

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