Full text from Pope Francis’ homily for the special ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing
March 27, 2020
March 29th: Counting on  His Word
March 29, 2020

Wash your hands and pray

By Renee Smith

Growing up Christian, you probably were often told to lean on God during the good times as equally as during the bad. It has probably been a simple rule to follow when there is nothing drastically positive or negative happening in your life.

What happens though, when your blessings are not just flowing but overflowing and you are feeling on cloud 9? Who or what becomes the centre of the universe then? When tragedy strikes, is God at the top of your mind or do you feel forgotten by Him and decide “maybe I’ll pray later…”

With COVID-19 rampaging around the world at this time, yes, I’ve found myself thanking God for my blessings while also praying for others. Still, most days headspace is preoccupied with constant worry.

There is worry over if I washed my hands enough, long enough and if the people in my household are doing the same. Anxiety and fear have woven its way into our conscious and subconscious although we may be doing the right things to prevent the spread of the virus. The fact is, living in the land of ‘What if?’ is a hard place to dwell and so, God often becomes an afterthought.

Regardless of what we think, God wants to be there for us. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). God wants us to turn and ask for intimacy, comfort and help whether we want to yell it or say it quietly.

I think for many of us, we do not know for what to ask.  We may feel guilty for our sin and think we’re undeserving of God’s mercy. Others may feel like it is not worth asking for a miracle, as past experiences might have shown that asking for miracles has left us disappointed.

It is important to refrain from becoming cynical about God, by viewing Him as some sort of magician—a superhuman being who can fix anything, only if He chooses. A reason why this image is difficult to give up is that we may not know with what to replace it. However, in faith, God is revealed as a God of power, even in the midst of places where one thinks God is most powerless. God grieves with us at the tragedies of life and He has not prevented sin and death from happening. When we believe in God’s mercy and trust that our lives were created for eternal life we are liberated from a fear of sin and death which can paralyse us.

Next time you wash your hands, call on Him. Wash your hands and try to remove the fear and anxiety of being rid of germs knowing God has you covered.

Recommended prayers while washing hands: ‘Our Father’, ‘Memorare’ & ‘Prayer to St Michael the Archangel’.