One of my fellow Marianists has a way of encouraging us when we need it. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with our ministry of teaching, counseling, and just being there for people and for our students. He always listens to our concerns and then says, “Courage.” He is a linguist and when he says it in French it sounds more emphatic and convincing “Koo Raj” with accent on the Raj! Yes, the spelling is the same.
The prophet Haggai in the first reading for today made me think of this Marianist for Haggai is encouraging people to have courage and to move ahead and complete the building or rebuilding of the Temple around the time 525 B.C.
Zerubbabel, the governor, Jehozodak, the high priest, and all the people hear the booming voice of the prophet shouting out to them “Courage!” He makes it clear with the added expression “and work”. This meant get started with the rebuilding of God’s home, the Temple. They are not alone, for the prophet assures them that God is with them and they are not to fear.
You are quite sure you have heard this type of encouragement from Jesus in several of the incidents he has with his apostles and disciples. We frequently hear him saying, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” We are to muster up courage as did the Israelites and the remnant which started the rebuilding of the Temple. If we listen to the Lord as the Israelites did through the voice of Haggai we will have that courage and a lack of fear when taking up our work each day.
Psalm 43 was formerly used by the Church in the entrance prayers to the Mass. I remember memorizing part of it in Latin in order to become an altar boy at St. William Parish in East Pittsburgh. Today the phrase that caught my attention was and is: “Hope in God, I will praise him, my savior and my God.”
It was after praying that Jesus reminded his apostles that he would suffer by being rejected; he would suffer physically after being put on trial, and then be crucified, but on the third day he would rise. It is in this ineffable mystery of love that the Son of God gives us the courage to cope with carrying our own crosses of weakness, discouragement, aging, etc. Jesus showed us what the word courage means when we feel down and out or rejected. We are not to lose hope in him for he is Emmanuel, that is, God with us. Can you hear him saying to you today, “Courage, do not fear, I am with you”? Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.