"'Tis the season to be jolly," goes the Christmas carol. But I know someone who pre-plans sick days for the month of December because he expects to get sick every year about this time. The airwaves are full of recommendations on prevention - from shots to hand-washing. Yet every season many of those who follow all the latest medical recommendations contract whatever cold or flu is passing around.
Christ Jesus was a master healer. But his healing work wasn't accomplished through following human health codes. He touched the untouchables and healed them of their diseases. (See Matthew 8:2-3) When his disciples were accused of breaking a religious requirement to wash their hands before eating, Jesus explained, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." (See Matthew 15:1-11)
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that Jesus promoted filth. Washing is a way to express respect for oneself and others. Washing is healthy and health-giving. But washing out of fear of catching something, and thinking that this is some great preventer of contagion, misses a few important points.
The most contagious culprit is fear. The most insistent and persistent hand-washing alone will never fully eliminate fear and its bad effects. But a spiritual understanding of God, Good, and of the power of divine Good to maintain health throughout creation will do what material hygiene can't.
On the subject of contagion, Mary Baker Eddy (the discoverer of Christian Science) wrote, "Floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions, we do what others do, believe what others believe, and say what others say. Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching... If only the people would believe that good is more contagious than evil, since God is omnipresence, how much more certain would be the doctor's success, and the clergyman's conversion of sinners... The confidence of mankind in contagious disease would thus become beautifully less; and in the same proportion would faith in the power of God to heal and to save mankind increase, until the whole human race would become healthier, holier, happier, and longer lived. (Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 228-229)
"A calm, Christian state of mind is a better preventive of contagion than a drug, or than any other possible sanative method; and the "perfect Love" that "casteth out fear" is a sure defense." (ibid.)
A number of years ago while working as a Christian Science nurse, I contracted a contagious skin condition called scabies. It had spread among the patients and staff in the facility where I worked. I treated it through prayer and was healed quickly and permanently. I never treated it as an actual condition of my health, though. To me, I was dealing with a popular belief in contagion running rampant through many care facilities in my state, and I refused to go along with it.
Spiritual understanding trumps mortal beliefs. I understood that the good I was doing as a nurse was more catching than any evil called "scabies". So I continued to care for my patients without fear. I was absolutely convinced that - by calmly and persistently praying to understand God as the sole controller of health and existence - the material belief and its effects would be erased from my body. And it was. Not only was I quickly healed, but I never recontracted the problem.
I would never advise anyone to not wash their hands or to refuse any type of preventive or curative care that they think will help them. However, I will say that the solution to contagion - contagion being a material belief - cannot be found through trusting alone in hygiene - another material belief.
Prayer that opens thought to the power and control of divine Love over health, is prayer that prevents or cures disease, as the case may require.
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