Last May 16, during the Holy Mass of the Ascension of the Lord at a parish in Patrocinio, Brazil, a 5 year-old boy interrupted the homily and asked for prayers for his godfather, who was on a respirator due to COVID-19.
Fr. Artur Oliveira was celebrating the Mass with a live transmission over the internet, so the emotional moment was captured and widely shared.
Indeed, Fr. Artur left the video available on his social networks because, as he told Catholic news agency ACI Digital, he hopes it will inspire people. “We must be like this child, who prayed simply, with courage, with faith.” He adds that several people who saw the video told him it had moved them, “including young people. And some said, ‘How small my faith is compared with the greatness of this boy’s faith!’”
A holy interruption
Little João Miguel interrupted the priest “with complete freedom,” according to the testimony of Fr. Artur himself, to ask directly, “Father, would you pray for my godfather? He’s intubated.”
The boy then explained that “Uncle Flavio” had caught the new coronavirus.
In a post accompanying a Facebook video of the tender moment (worth watching even if you don’t speak Portuguese, to see how the Fr. Artur sits down beside the little boy on the altar steps and prays with him), the priest commented on the episode:
How could I not pay heed to this request? I confess that, interiorly, I asked God, “Lord, this child took me by surprise. What should I do now?” I abandoned what I was saying and sat down there on the altar steps. I imagined Jesus listening to his request. And I know that He will! The people who were there in the church learned what it means to have faith.”
Just before João Miguel’s request, the priest was talking in his homily about Jesus’ Ascension and the fact that even though He ascends to heaven, He remains with us: “Even if I don’t feel Him in every moment, He’s with me. Even if I don’t see Him at all times, He’s with me.” After praying with the boy, the priest completed his homily, saying, “Do you want a more beautiful sign than that? Jesus is in our midst all the time.”
The way Fr. Artur dealt with the situation calls to mind Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Mt 19:14)
And indeed, on Thursday, May 27, Fr. Artur returned to Facebook to share the news that João Miguel’s request had been heard and answered: “Yes, the MIRACLE happened.”
On his YouTube channel, the priest posted a video to follow up on the story, preceded by a warning: “Get your handkerchief ready!” —because it’s hard not to get teary-eyed when seeing the boy’s love for his godfather and his simple faith.
During the 10-minute video (in Portuguese) the priest interviews the boy’s mother, who recounts how within a week the boy’s uncle/godfather was off assisted respiration and was even talking again.
“Why did he get better so fast?” Fr. Arturo asks the boy. “Because we prayed a lot and God helped us!” João Miguel replies.
Who can doubt Jesus’ words about children—that “in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven” (MT 18:10)? The video then shows “Uncle Flavio” leaving the hospital in a wheelchair and being embraced by his daughter as both cry tears of joy.
May God hear the prayers of everyone, children and adults, who are praying for loved ones who are suffering from COVID-19, and may we join our prayers to theirs.