What is courage? Do we really know it when we see it? Is it Dirty Harry saying, “Go ahead, make my day?” Maybe it’s John Wayne, in a gunfight in the streets of some non-descript Western town, shooting it out with the bad guy. What does it mean to have the “Courage to Believe”?
As a Deacon, I’ve had the great fortune to meet a lot of people. I’ve been blessed to meet people who are homeless; people coming into a soup kitchen for a hot meal on a cold day; men on parole living at a half-way house trying to get their lives together; people who are sick in the hospital; people who are dying; and the families who’ve lost someone they love.
But of all the people I’ve met, the most courageous, the one who had the “Courage to Believe” was my friend Ted. A few years ago, Ted was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and was given only a short time to live. Ted never stopped praying; he never stopped caring for others as Jesus did; he never stopped loving. One of the last times I got to see him and spend some time talking with him was during my time of formation for the Permanent Diaconate. As I was about to leave him, he asked me if we could pray. In my ignorant arrogance, I thought, “Great. Now I can utter some awesome prayer that will blow his socks off and demonstrate just how much I’ve learned in my diaconal studies.” But before I could start, Ted began to pray. He began to pray for me, for my continued studies, and that I would become the minister God wanted me to be. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “You’re the one who’s dying! I should be praying for you!” But Ted wasn’t thinking about anything other than praying that I would become the man, the husband, the father, and the deacon that God wanted me to be. He didn’t care about his own needs. He cared about mine.
My friends, that’s “Courage to Believe”. We need the courage to not care about ourselves but, to care about others. We need the courage to say to someone in need that we’ll pray for them. We need the courage to proudly proclaim the reason we came in late for work is that we went to Mass that morning first. We need the courage to tuck our kids or grandkids in to bed and then pray with them. We need the courage to do something for someone else simply because they need it and not for any personal glory or gain.
But mostly, we need the courage to ask God to help us; to help us to believe; to help us to walk the path He wants us to walk; to fill our hearts with peace, love, and joy; to become the people He wants us to be.
I pray that God will change all of our hearts so that we might be filled with the “Courage to Believe.”