Musings – The masks we wear (or don’t)

Going to the store is a normal occurrence for me, mostly because even when I make a list, I inevitably forget something on the list or just forget to put it on the list. So, it was no surprise to get home from the store a few days ago and find that I had forgotten to get dishwasher tabs. Back to the store I went, for the proverbial missing item.

I decided to go to a smaller store since what I needed was nothing special and it might be easier to get in and out of a smaller place. I found what I needed and headed to the checkout, waiting behind another customer. I’m usually an oblivious person when it comes to conversation going on around me in public places, but I guess the general quiet of the place made it easier to hear; that and the fact that the cashier and customer were actually talking about me and seemed to want me to hear it. The subject in question was my mask. The conversation: Why are these stupid people still wearing masks? Don’t they know it doesn’t do anything? Why are they trying to force this stuff on people anyway? We don’t have to wear a mask; it’s just stupid. The customer left and I went through the line. The cashier did not bother with a greeting, barely said anything other than the price of the item and turned away from the cash register when she finished. I don’t expect a medal or a parade for wearing a mask (for that matter I don’t expect anything), but I certainly didn’t expect the response I got at that store.

When I got home, I started thinking about the ignorance—meaning simply lack of knowledge—on display at the store and I wondered how many more people miss the point of the mask. I don’t wear it for my health, I wear it for the people around me. The goal of wearing masks is to not inadvertently spread the virus from yourself to someone else, especially if you are an asymptomatic carrier. The mask won’t protect you, but it might protect the people around you.

That made me think of our faith. While we practice certain acts of faith as private (acts of compassion and devotion), there are others that must be public (acts of justice and worship). The private acts are intended to be internal evidences to us that deepen and nurture our love of God. The public acts are intended to be external evidences to others that express our love and care of neighbor and show them the hand and work of God in the world. People see the love you show them or others and through that, see the evidence of Jesus in this world. We become the Jesus that those around us see because we are, in that moment, wearing the Jesus mask, or rather are showing the person of Jesus to those around us.

So, the mask you wear in public during this outbreak can also be the visage of Jesus you show to others. You are subconsciously telling them that you care enough about them to be concerned for their health. The same is true of bearing the image of Jesus in your lifestyle—and it is a lifestyle, a 24/7 way of living. The question to be asked is what kind of image are you portraying to the world? Is it your way of life or the Jesus Way?

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