The pandemic of 1347 called the Bubonic Plague killed up to 30 million people in Europe alone. The name “buboes” described a victim’s infected lymph glands that swelled and turned to blackish boils. The cause of the Bubonic Plague remained a mystery until 1894, when scientists discovered that fleas and rodents infected by the Yersinia pestis bacterium spread the disease.
Terrified medieval academics, religionists, and government authorities blamed the Black Death on minority groups or supernatural agents including Satan, the starry host, witches, gypsies, Jews and, of course, God.
Panicked aristocrats fled their villas and sailed to uninfected regions of the world. In the diseased urban centers, families isolated themselves, while corpses littered the streets outside their doors. Uncertainty and hopelessness seized poor and rich alike.
The Italian writer Boccaccio wrote that the infected citizens “ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise.”
An occult dogma seized educated people and peasants too. They believed that communities could quench the wrath of “beings” who visited the plague upon society, if citizens embraced their own inner anguish.
Like the Bubonic scourge itself, a ritual known as flagellation spread through Europe.
Fearful citizens gathered by the thousands to inflict torture and trauma upon themselves!
Known as flagellants, they gashed their bodies and one another with whips braided with nails — in ceremonies conducted by leaders who required money and blood to appease unseen forces.
People who were considered “peculiar” became targets of zealous flagellants who blamed them for provoking the spiteful ethereal agents of disease.
Some flagellants wore masks too. They covered their faces to demonstrate to deities their utter humility. Physicians wore birdlike masks stuffed with herbs, believing that masks protected them from disease-laden air.
Again and again throughout the centuries the Bubonic Plague blistered history until scientists discovered that by forcibly quarantining infected victims in cities like London, the waves of contagion could be marginally bridled.
In 2020, while our own scientists scramble to produce a Coronavirus vaccine, once again we are using the ages-old quarantine method to hold back a pandemic tide.
Nearly one-third of Europe succumbed to the Black Death, and it became socially acceptable to gouge themselves bloody and target fellow citizens, to feed their need to “make a difference.” In our strange season of 2020, an evil influence has traveled through history to poison our minds once again.
Do you feel it?
On days that we escape self-isolation and visit grocery stores, we stand six feet away from some who mask a medieval fault-finding and self-loathing. Some teeter on the edge of irrational acts — like the flagellants of other eras.
If we shared our thoughts aloud, one question resounds: “Who is to blame for ALL this despair (including unmanageable pollution, worldwide hunger, genocide, poverty and now a pandemic!).
We winnow through personal experience, education and our upbringings for insight — while hopelessness crescendos. Who can we rely upon to make sense of all this?
Is it naïve to yearn for a powerful someone who can help us? Someone who gently warns: “You can never flay your souls enough to atone for evils perpetrated by others.”
“You cannot make a meaningful “difference” in society by renouncing your heritage.”
It may shock you — in moments of silence between Netflix bingeing — that your burning desire to “make a difference” has guided you to a narrow and unexpected path to fulfillment.
The path leads to the only person you can unreservedly trust, and your desire to make a difference is accomplished in HIS sacrifice. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to satisfy your intense empathy — and to heal your broken, lonely heart.
“He was wounded for our [humanity’s] transgressions, he was bruised for our [humanity’s] iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him [Jesus’ died to give you peace] and with his stripes we are healed [Jesus is your cure for hopelessness].” Isaiah 53, verse 5.
Hopelessness cannot withstand the powerful healing touch of Jesus. No lockdown or quarantine can separate you from the love that God’s Son pours into your open heart.
The Bible was written by Jesus, and when you place your faith in him, he will rescue you from the plague of uncertainties as well as your fear of death. Simply ask him to make his home in the core of your being, and begin a relationship with him. Read and study the Bible as it is designed to be: a conversation with God.
Offer Jesus your life and he will inspire you with the ambition and purpose you long for.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3, verse 16 and 17.