I have not yet said anything concerning the coronavirus that has now become a global pandemic… Last week, I noted the precautions Bishop Rozanski has imposed on all the parishes of the Diocese but I haven’t weighed in … I do find it interesting though that some folks have said that this outbreak is of “biblical proportions” – there are indeed some similarities to how infected, diseased people and sinners were treated in biblical times… like outcasts. And why is that? There was a fear among the community that sin, disease and infection was contagious. There was a fear of being exposed and as such, people were kept at a distance. The natural reaction is to protect oneself … so, the infirmed – whether in body or in soul – were isolated from the community. Quarantined.
Think about this in relation to the gospel today… This woman goes out to draw water from the well – notice the time, noon. Normally, water was drawn early in the morning or in the evening in order to “beat the heat.” She goes when no one else is around, at the hottest point of the day … indicating that she is an outcast … isolated for her sin. And in the course of their conversation Jesus does 2 things: 1. He displays a lack of fear … He is not afraid to get close to her, to speak to her, to enter her world. 2. He exposes her sin – not to shame or condemn … to take it from her, take into Himself … to heal and to restore her to life. He sees into her darkness and brings the light of His divine love – the grace of His mercy. He brings her back into right relationship – notice she darts off to town with excitement … back to the very people who had cast her out in the first place.
Currently there are people in quarantine … many schools have shut down, several universities have gone to remote classrooms and banned outside visitors … people are even discouraged from going to the doctor but calling instead. Do you see what we are doing? We are distancing ourselves from the infected or even those who might not be … Don’t get me wrong, the virus is serious and precautionary measures are necessay, nevertheless the fear factor parallel to the attitude found in the culture of ancient Israel is interesting. We are doing what they did … trying to prevent being exposed. And why? Because we are afraid we might catch it, that we might become infected.
Do you know we do the very same with God. We distance ourselves from Him. We put up walls. We are afraid of getting close, of entering His world. We are afraid of being exposed. Not to what He has – but exposing ourselves … opening ourselves, being vulnerable … And really, what is there to be fearful of? Are we afraid of being condemned? Shamed? Does He do that to the woman at the well? No … Jesus isn’t afraid of us … He is not afraid of our sin … He wants to take it from us. He wants to heal broken relationships and sickness of our souls … But we have to be open to Him, we have to allow ourselves to be exposed … And we do that in confession … in exposing our sins we “catch” what He has … mercy, forgiveness, renewal of faith … harmony in our relationships with God and others. New life and purpose.
During this historic and troubled time, as we take precautionary measures to keep our bodies healthy – lets not forget that our souls are just as important … and take the necessary steps needed to maintain a healthy soul. There is enough fear out there as it is … therefore, lets turn our attention to God, to invoke His divine protection on ourselves and those who are ill … For now is the time when we need Him.