COVID -19 Survival Plan: Prayerfully Accepting Our Nakedness

People everywhere are experiencing how COVID – 19 seemingly just appeared out of nowhere and pulled the plug on our world’s happy little bubble bath…  We were all just relaxing and soakin’ in the miasma of daily life, when all of a sudden, BAM!!!  This pandemic not only pulled out the plug to our world’s warm and cozy bath, but it ALSO widened the drain that it covered!!!  Now as the water is both getting colder and running out faster than we ever anticipated, many are stuck and stunned…   Stunned at the true revelation our common nakedness as human beings – both individually and collectively as a nation…

It was just months ago when some were completely ignorant about the reality of their own nakedness…  There were others who had simply forgotten about it or, had willfully and successfully been able to hide/lock it in some dark hidden corner of their life – complete with a mask to cover and redefine it when it did surface… But now with the world’s plug pulled, our pre-pandemic illusion of ‘being normal and fully clothed’ has been revealed for what it really is… …And somehow, we must all come to grips with the cold, true reality of our utter human nakedness…

Even those on million dollar yachts cannot escape this pandemic caused nakedness…  With no escape, how are we suppose to proceed? What is the best response one can make in grappling with one’s utter nakedness?  As Christians we turn to the Bible for scriptural examples and guidance in this matter because it clearly speaks about the nakedness of human life­ – both its causes and our responses to it. The examples of nakedness I am using can be found at the beginning of the Old and New Testaments – in Genesis with our first parent and in the Gospels with Jesus.

Buying Satan’s Lie: Our Nakedness Reflects Our Nothingness

            Genesis begins the Old Testament with stories of Adam and Eve, where readers can find and reflect on our first parent’s response to the very real, sudden nakedness that is caused when sin/evil and humanity meet.  Whereas I believe COVID -19 is moreso, but not exclusively, a natural evil (aka earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.), there are others who believe without a doubt, that it is a moral and willful evil act that was/is freely chosen and planned… COVID – 19 origins aside, my focus today is on what our scripturally based personal and communal responses to nakedness can be, so lets proceed.

With that said, the Genesis narrative reveals that after encountering an unprecedented evil, it was the first parents’ free willed response to it that resulted in their utter human nakedness. It was their response to the event, not the event itself, which led to the creation and revelation of their own nakedness!!!  Their disobedience created a context in which their innocence was lost and they became painfully aware of their limitations and challenges – like their mortality, their mental and spiritual nakedness, etc. In short, they lost their innocence through disobedience but gained the awareness, through sin, of their real but limited creatureliness before an almighty God.

That’s a lot to handle and deal with – especially when as a ‘youth’ the first couple suddenly realized that their ‘normal’ had been permanently changed – and because of their own actions!   Some of us who boldly and fearlessly messed up in our early lives, know what this feels like… The first couple was now forced to live daily with and in the raw nakedness of their creatureliness their limited power and knowledge, their ignorance of God’s ultimate plans, their inability to have absolute freedom and the utter nakedness of being a dependent creature/child of God who is not God, etc…

By sinning the first couple lost the precious gifts of a trusting faith, real simple hope and an unquestioned love of and for God (and God’s plans etc.).  They now experienced their nakedness in a different manner than before…  That which was originally nothing, all of sudden became recast into a bad and problematic ‘something’ for them! It became something to be ashamed of, to hide and be embarrassed about and to feel bad about… In their radical nakedness, they chose to respond to it– and God – with fear: by hiding, lying, finger pointing, and blaming others, etc.

As youth, they rejected the very nakedness that their choices had created… … They failed to trust, know and have faith that if God created them naked, then God’s also had a plan and reason why they were so … …Instead, they bought Satan’s lie that their creaturely nakedness was proof of BOTH their own ultimate meaninglessness and also that God was an outright liar!!!  The sin blinded them from understanding, accepting and knowing that God is glorified and we are made holy, by freely working with God’s grace through our nakedness!

Following Jesus’ Truth: Our Nakedness Reflects Our Holiness

            The New Testament begins with the opposite example: One who accepted and lived out of  His human nakedness – as a blessing to bless others and as a vehicle to give Glory to God…  In the Gospels, the Apostles share Jesus’ responses to the human nakedness caused by sin, life and death. Like our first parents, Jesus also had a choice in how He could respond to the very real natural, moral and spiritual evils He encountered during His life and ministry. His response to that utter nakedness contrasted greatly with Adam and Eve’s, and stands alone as the human response to nakedness, par excellence!!!

Jesus’ response was to prayerfully acknowledge and to accept his human nakedness in faith and hope each day.  He did so, in belief, that His person, mission and work would not be ultimately stopped or thwarted by the human nakedness He encountered on the journey. He chose to have faith in God’s Promises of His specially created somethingness, instead of buying the lie offered by Satan that his present experience of human nakedness equates to eternal nothingness.

By rising early to ground Himself in prayer,  [COVID SURVIVAL PLAN #1] Jesus began each day by renewing Himself in God’s Spirit of Truth and Love.  This act made it possible for Him to accept his nakedness as a divine gift and also to live a response to it by faith, hope and loving service to others. Each day, he MODELED and lived the “Our Father” for the Apostles, which instructs us to prayerfully come to God for our daily bread.

He spoke aloud and prayed for the daily needs/concerns/bread of God’s people – their nakedness and his own – empowering each as he could towards the Kingdom.  Being renewed each morning, He went forth giving away that which He just received – the grace, faith, hope and love of God – though still poor, broken and naked himself.

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What was Jesus’ prayer regarding His nakedness?  My guess is that…

First and foremost, that He would and could – THIS DAY – fully accept it as both God’s will and God’s blessing for Him.  We see and read about this in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He died for us when He says, “…but not my will, but Yours be done…”

Second, surely that somehow and in someway this day, that He would walk with and be used by God’s Spirit to love and serve others as best He could – despite being ‘just’ an utterly naked creature – this day…

Third, that He would continue to model for others a powerful love, trust and hope in the truthfulness of God’s Promises more and more each day.  That in doing so, His life would empower others to reject Satan’s lies about Who and What God really is…  That in doing so, His life would empower others to accept – in faith, hope and love – their call as God’s Children…

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Living out this COVID – 19 plan is not for the faint hearted, or for those who are unwilling to wrestle with their nakedness and to bring it truly to God via prayer.

In fact, I suspect that if you are like me, some days you can’t even begin to acknowledge your nakedness until you have been FIRST bathed and lathered in God’s Love… Only then, am I able to go forth courageously accepting the naked truths about my nakedness – once again, to start this very day…

May God Bless you and me as we together, rise each morning offering our nakedness as our tithe, that we may receive that daily grace and bread to go forth nakedly, serving others in God’s Holy Spirit!

Author: P. J. West, Jr.

Paul J. West Jr. is a cradle Catholic and native Chicagoan who has ministered in Catholic Schools, parishes and hospitals for over two decades. His current ministries are focused on both hospital chaplaincy and writing. Prior to this, he ministered as an educator for almost twenty five years teaching religion, scripture, philosophy and ethics at four Chicago area high schools and adults at the Chicago Catholic Scripture School. His parish ministry has included preaching, teaching, writing and serving as a Eucharistic minister. Mr. West, who is native south sider, has been married for almost 30 years to Dr. Joy West. They have raised four beautiful daughters who are all hardcore Bears and White Sox fans!!!!

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