Last week, a friend of mine with all sincerity texted me asking if there were any prayers for healing or protection from the corona virus. Was there a special Novena, certain prayer, particular Saint who’s intercession we needed to tap into. That came to mind looking at today’s first reading. [Daily Mass Readings can be found here ]It’s such an interesting story from the Old Testament. This guy named Naaman – who’s not a Jew – in fact his connection to Jews is that as a Military leader he helped raid a portion of Israel and one of the people they captured, this Jewish girl was a servant to Naaman’s wife.
For all of Naaman’s successes on the battlefield, he had a problem – a serious problem. He had leprosy. You think corona virus is bad. Leprosy is far, far worse… In any event, the Jewish girl who was now a servant in his household tells Naaman to go to Israel, there’s a prophet there who can cure you. What did we hear happened? – Naaman goes, and the prophet Elisha tells him “go and wash seven times in the Jordan.”
Naaman leaves and is taken aback. That’s it? Wash in the Jordan? That’s what the God of Israel tells this prophet to tell me to do? That dirty, river? Why wash in that river? Where I come from we have better, nicer, cleaner rivers… If that’s it, this can’t be real, it can’t be serious.
Faith isn’t about magic spells. Faith isn’t superstition. Faith isn’t about appeasing or manipulating God. Faith is about putting ourselves into God’s hands. Listening to the Lord commanding us to be courageous, to be strong, to not be afraid… To not be discouraged… To not forget that the Lord is with us.
Naaman discovers that when his servants counsel him to let go of his ego, to let go of his arrogance, to let go of his expectations and do what the prophet has told him to do – to do what God told him to do. And low and behold, he experiences the miraculous cleansing of the leprosy.
I think that’s the reminder we need today. As Catholic Christians, we have a deeper, longer, more incredible history of what God has done – of what God can do. In Jesus Christ, death itself has been defeated. He remains with us both in His word and in His very real presence – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.
So to my friend asking about something new or different to pray for healing or protection from the corona virus I said – this is not a time for something new or different – but rather a deeper faith, deeper trust in what we regularly do and say that we believe in. Yes we need to take all the reasonable precautions and follow the advice of experts on how to care for people and for each other and do our part – in dealing with this virus, and just helping one another with all of the unprecedented things going on.
But even more, we need to go deeper in our faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ. Like Naaman, we need to humble ourselves, yield our precious control, let go of our egos and arrogance and recognize who is ultimately in control… giving praise to the God who loved us into being and sustains our very breath at this very instant. Knowing that He is greater than any virus or infectious disease… Knowing that He can relieve our greatest fears – both real and imagined.