What is the mark of a saint? What is the mark of someone totally possessed by the Holy Spirit? Movement.
St. John Paul II said that, in the Bible, the fundamental characteristic of the Spirit is creating movement. The saints epitomize this. They go. It is like they are riding on the wind. They seem to be movement itself. Even when in a moment of stilled prayer, they are not static or stagnant, but vibrating. They are dynamic: moved here to there by an energetic, living power. They have left the safe shore to surf the towering waves.
We have a lot to learn from them on this note, because we are rarely like this, aren’t we? Instead, here is what we do:
- Weigh pros and cons
- Make ‘sure’
- Play it safe to avoid making mistakes
- Don’t take risks, because we might fail
- Repeat: don’t fail, don’t make mistakes!
How messed up are our minds, you guys?
We tie the ship to the dock because to set sail is perilous. We don’t ‘go’ because we ‘aren’t quite sure’ or we know we might fall down. We don’t make ourselves vulnerable because it might mean getting hurt. We don’t take risks because it might mean failing. We are so daggone cautious! We are so bleepin’ scared! Where did God ever tell us, “Make sure you don’t screw up?” Where did He say, “Come follow me… cautiously?” Where is that in the Bible, the Catechism or the lives of the saints?
Instead we have Peter and Judas. One constantly falling down, putting his foot in his mouth, making mistakes, nearly drowning, sinning, failing, etc. The other seems to have stayed in the background, playing it safe the whole way (except for when he was counting the cost: Matt. 26:6-13.) Which one was the rock and which one was lost? Which one confessed, “You are the Christ” and for which one “would it have been better had he never been born?”
We are mistake-making beings. We fail and sometimes we get hurt or hurt others. God knows of all this. And He is not intimidated by it. He can handle it. There is nothing (except a closed heart) His Mercy cannot handle. Everything He has left us – confession, the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit – seem to be the means to fight a battle: to ‘get out there,’ to lay ourselves on the line, to risk. They are means of healing, strengthening and empowering. He didn’t seem to leave us anything to aid us in hiding and removing ourselves from action.
Here are some witnesses to this line of thinking:
Dr. Ben Carson, a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon (and Christian), wrote a book called Take The Risk. He claims that, contrary to our extremely risk-averse culture, we can never reach our full potential unless we take risks. A man who grew up in dire poverty in Detroit and who once separated twins conjoined at the skull knows something of realizing potential and of risk. He displays Gospel truth. Disciples of the Lord Jesus are called to a radical, otherworldly faith. And this faith is spelled ‘r.i.s.k.’
Bob Goff, an international lawyer (and Christian) with another crazy testimony, wrote a book called Love Does. Therein lies is a chapter called ‘Just Say Yes,’ which perfectly captures his whole attitude: just say ‘yes’ (even to crazy things) in life and Jesus will show you the ‘how’ along the way, He will reveal His plan and path for you as you go: be not afraid, just jump out of the boat. Get a little taste of it here:
And the highest witness and confirmation of all has come from our beloved Holy Father:
I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. (Pope Francis)
Love moves. And it guides as it moves – not before. A person moved by love will exit a fortress of security and might be moved into a land of discomfort, awkwardness and failure. So what! It’s there that we are alive because we are animated and guided by the Spirit of God! Who wants a securely boring and frustrating life over a vulnerable, but courageous and abundant, life?
It’s time we throw caution to the wind. It’s time are willing to sustain a wound. It’s time we pick up our swords. It’s time we just say yes and go. Let’s pray for the impulse of the Holy Spirit, who will show us the way as we move, as the wind steers a moving ship.
He swirls around us all day long saying, “Trust me. Do not be afraid. Move.”