A Way Forward

A Way Forward

Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real. These are not my words, small and insignificant as I am, but those of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,the World Health Organization’s director-general who is watching not simply one limited scenario but the world at large.

We all have to admit that, globally speaking, the coronavirus has been spreading practically to every country under the sun. And, the more it spreads, the more it cripples human health. According to recent statics our dear neighbors, the Italian people, for instance, have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus outbreak. In fact, the virus, known as Covid-19, has claimed the lives of 631 persons with 1004 recovered out of 10,149 cases. In front of such a situation, which the Italian Prime Minister, Antonio Conte, described as “our darkest hour,” he said that the best thing for people was to stay home. “We’re having an important growth in infection… and of deaths. The whole of Italy will become a protected zone,” he reiterated in his Monday evening address.

Coronavirus has also fomented racism. Such is the case in France, where out of 1,606 cases, there are 30 deaths and 12 recovered. One Vietnamese woman told the newspaper Le Monde that she had been insulted by a car driver who shouted, “Keep your virus, dirty Chinese!” and “You are not welcome in France” as he sped away through a puddle, splashing her. This kind of incident proves right what Paul Watanbe, a political science professor and director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in his analysis of the situation when he said: “I think people are acting out their frustrations and their racism and their stereotypes and prejudices, [and] that the floodgates are lifted when situations like this arise.” This is not to mention the aggressive shopping that is going around. Brian Cornell, the C.E.O. of Target, noted that over the weekend, Target started limiting the quantity of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes that customers can buy: “We’ve seen aggressive shopping across the country in our stores.” A situation which has also been happening in our country.

Surely, medicine and preventative measures are essential to counteract this darkest hour. The World Health Organization in a publication entitled, Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools, of March 2020, suggests the following public health measures, which have, again and again, proven critical in actually slowing the spread of illnesses, namely the preventative actions of staying home when sick, covering mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing whilst disposing of used tissue immediately, washing hands often with soap and water, and, finally, cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objections.

Having said that, we cannot just limit our fight against coronavirus only scientifically. We need, first and foremost, to wage a ferocious war on it spiritually. God wants us healthy! The Bible says so! In 3 John 1:2 we find: Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health; I know that it is well with your soul. Whereas in Jeremiah 33:6 God gives the following promise: Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. Do we not need abundance of prosperity and security where major economies are simply being gravely weakened due to the coronavirus? So, what are we going to do? The Book of Proverbs shows us the way forward when it says: Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Prov 16:24). Now, the honeycomb, sweetness and health to both the soul and the body are, undoubtedly, the words of Psalm 91, the Psalm of protection against any kind of pestilence, disease, evil, persecution and so forth.

Commenting on this beautiful and most powerful Psalm, St Augustine wrote: “Thus then do thou, when you suffer the troubles of this world, which the devil, openly by men, or secretly, as in Job’s case, inflicts; be courageous, be of long suffering; you shall dwell under the defense of the Most High, as this Psalm expresses it: for if you depart from the help of the Most High, without strength to aid yourself, you will fall.” Thus, without God we cannot make it. We remain ill! But with God we can conquer every evil virus not just the corona one because, as the Most High tells us Himself in the Psalm: I will deliver him; I will protect him, … I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation (Psalm 91:14-16). Yes! The Lord wants to save us from the deadly pestilence (verse 3), the pestilence that stalks in darkness (verse 6)from the fear [of] the terror of the night (verse 5)from the arrow that flies by day (verse 5)and, finally, from the destruction that wastes at noonday (verse 6).

All this can be possible if you and me just CALL HIM (see verse 15) by praying Psalm 91 as the first thing in the morning, with our hand placed on our heart as a sign that we wholeheartedly believe, treasure and wait in joyful hope that those promises of which the Psalm speaks, will indeed occur in and through His Holy Victorious Presence on sin, death and sickness. Here is Psalm 91 to be prayed and cherished:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.

For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

May we be delivered, rescued, made rich, strong and given back our dignity, and be triumphantly victorious healthily, spiritually and, yes economically, over the cursed coronavirus through God’s sure promises and healing as laid out by Psalm 91, a solid healing and prevention against the evil coronavirus and every other disease on our planet.

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Written by
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap