Tuesday, June 7, 2011
One of my favorite gospel passages is that of the interaction between Christ and the hemorrhagic woman who touched his cloak in a crowd. Sensing that some power had escaped from his body, he questions who it is that has touched him and bravely coming into his view, she admits her action. Seeing her great faith he speaks to her: "Daughter take courage; your faith has made you well." (Matthew 9:22)
Take courage, he says. And this daughter wonders, how exactly does a person take courage? For me, a chronic worrier and perfectionist, one who lives with constant fear and anxiety, nothing sounds more appealing than hearing Christ speak to me and say, "Daughter, take courage." But that courage escapes me, and I am left to shake in my shoes and wonder exactly how it is that I am able to make it through the tasks of each day without crumbling into a million pieces.
The temperature spikes and tempers flare, bills pile up with no end in sight, worries about tomorrow fill my mind and there seems to be no escape, no recourse for my troubles. The consolations of God seem far distant, the comfort offered by friends can't seem to sustain me and although I kneel in prayer fingering the beads, words of prayer don't burst forth from my heart. It's hard to believe that God cares, that he knows the burdens I carry and wants to relieve me of my distress. Spiritual reading tells me how blessed I am to suffer, for in my suffering I assist Christ in His passion and relieve the torment he endures from the sins of many. But still...still...I need relief that doesn't come from reading about the saints. I recognize that I am far from the holiness to which I aspire; I am not yet a saint, and most likely will never become one.
Yet again, in recent days, He speaks those words in Holy Scripture:
"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33
So I kneel down in the pew each day, head bent low, offering Him my fear and weakness, my impatience and short temper and I open my hands to receive His Body and Blood. And it is here, here in the gift of Eucharist, that I receive the courage which carries me through into the unknown of each day. This is it, the answer to my questions, the solution to my worries, His gift to me...I give Him my all, my entire nothingness and in return He gives me His everything from which I draw just enough courage to carry me through until the next time my Lord and I meet in the most intimate connection ever known. I ingest His Body and He innervates my entire being with His courage-producing presence.
And he speaks to me, "Take courage, it is I. Don't be afraid." (Matthew 14:27)
So I go in peace to courageously enter into life in His service for just one more day, each and every day of my life.