Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
I found out this past week that the 14th niece or nephew is due this coming summer. I am scheduled to baptize number 13, who is due in mid-March, on Easter Monday. My family does a betting board for who can guess closest to the right day and gender. The winner takes away a cool $25 dollars. Thus far I have struck out every time, but I am hopeful that I can win at least once now that there are two opportunities in 2021!
In preparing for this Lent, I have been asking Jesus what He wants for me, for all of us. The two words I have been hearing are courage and boldness.
I was especially struck by this in last weekend’s Gospel account of the leper who came to Jesus for healing. This man grew up in a culture that told him that he needed to separate himself from the community so his disease wouldn’t spread. He would have been separated from family and from worshiping God in the Temple. He needed to shout “Unclean, Unclean” when people did come near.
With that being so ingrained in him, it would have taken real boldness, real courage to do what this man did. Yet that can be the time we experience the greatest freedom, when we can take these bold steps. It also took real boldness on the part of Jesus to not heal this man from a safe distance but to reach out and touch him, something that would have been hard to do with how disfiguring this disease can be. There is boldness in both of these roles—the boldness of the one seeking healing was matched by the one doing the healing.
It is hard enough to take a step toward physical healing—how many of us won’t go to the doctor! I know of plenty of people who only go kicking and screaming. That is true for me. How many lepers didn’t go to Jesus for healing but instead just stayed away? Well, it can be even harder when it comes to our conversions, to taking steps to rectify moral weaknesses and failures. It can be hard when we are being asked by God to take a more definitive step in following Him. That is why we can stay away from the confessional for years, decades. That is why wounds can fester in friendships, marriages, and other relationships for years—we can be simply unwilling or too scared to take a bold step in making it right. That is why someone can be in an addiction for years, because it takes such boldness and courage to start changing it. Too often, we can end up staying away from the Lord who can heal us.
This Lenten season, may we ask ourselves: what role do boldness and courage play in our spiritual life? In this Lenten season, may we be unafraid to be Bold. Remember, God is never outdone in generosity!