Headlining the news this week is what is reported to be a new coronavirus, originating in China. Officials in that country are doing everything they can to contain its spread. Other countries are monitoring things very closely, in the hopes of early detection and the limiting of the contagion. Since this particular coronavirus is newly identified, there is as yet no vaccine developed to protect against it. We pray, of course, for the souls of the many people to whose death this virus may have contributed, as well as for the healing of anyone who has contracted it. May the vaccine and antidote be discovered very soon.
There are many viruses with which we need to contend. Among the most serious are those that enter not our bloodstream but our mindset. These have a detrimental effect on our psyches and our souls. For these there is both inoculation and remedy, yet, strangely, we are very slow to avail ourselves of it.
In our day we encounter an abundance of viruses that worm their way into our minds and influence our behaviour. As the annual March for Life in Washington DC took place on Friday, we were reminded that the lethal falsehood claiming that the child in the womb is not a human being has so infected the minds of people that the death by abortion of millions of unborn children registers not as an unspeakable outrage but a societal “good.” Where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal and expanding, we can detect the influence of the patently false notion of radical autonomy. One can point as well to the multiple “isms” that pollute the air and corrode our ability fully to honour the dignity of every human person: racism, materialism, individualism and so on.
Pope Francis has recently highlighted the vaccine and cure for all of these viruses: the Word of God. This past Sunday, the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, has been designated by the Holy Father as Sunday of the Word of God, henceforth to be honoured on an annual basis. By this initiative, Pope Francis wishes to encourage everyone in the Church to a new appreciation of and love for Sacred Scripture. In the papal decree, Aperuit Illis, by which he establishes the Sunday of the Word of God, the Pope says this: “we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.” (AI, n. 8) Encounter with, and reflection upon, the living Word of God opens our minds to see the truth of things. God’s Truth, spoken in His Word, is the bulwark against all viruses whose source is the lie.
Contagion is halted when the appropriate inoculation is discovered and disseminated. Well, by speaking His Word, especially through the Incarnation, God has given the protection we need against viruses that attack our souls. It is made available to everyone in Sacred Scripture. Let’s heed the call of Pope Francis, read the Bible daily, and thus live joyfully in the protection and remedy God gives us in His Holy Word.