Editorial: Omicron is coming; so is the Alpha and the Omega

On the first Sunday of Advent, the media were filled with stories about waiting and preparing. The Sunday morning talk shows trotted out modern prophets foretelling of an arrival. Smartphones dinged with the latest headlines and updates about what’s coming and how it might change our lives. A common theme? Now is the time to prepare.

No, the media didn’t embrace the spirit of Advent and the anticipation of the birth or the Second Coming of Jesus. The prophets weren’t named Isaiah or Micah, but rather Fauci and Walensky, Gupta and Jha. And they weren’t talking about who is coming, but what:

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Unlike Advent, which nourishes hope and joyful anticipation, the prophecies regarding Omicron seemed to trigger fear, anxiety, and pessimism. The stock market had its worst day of 2021. Travel bans are already being instituted. Sighs of “here we go again” are being heard from a people weary of masks and shots, sickness and separation.

But here we go with Advent again and its invitation to hope and healing, its assurance that the coming Savior will bring light to darkness, that peace will triumph over war, that justice shall reign, and that even death will be conquered.

Just as the prophets of the Omicron variant urge preparation through vaccinations and boosters, the prophets of Jesus’ coming urge preparation through spiritual boosters. Find quiet time to devote to reading Scripture or religious material. Attend Mass more frequently, if possible. Light candles on an Advent wreath. Be generous to the poor and needy. Repent, confess sins, change life for the better.

And be not afraid.

We’ll know more about Omicron in the coming days and weeks. But even though we may already know plenty about Jesus, who is referred to in Scripture as the Alpha and the Omega — the beginning and the end — there is always more to learn, more to discover, more to embrace. With Jesus, we are called to be the researchers. We can be the prophets. We can be the healers.

We need to prepare well. — Thomas J. Dermody

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