by Father Mark Goldasich
I’m sure there was a time in the past week or so when I wasn’t coughing . . . I just can’t remember it.
Yes, I finally got the infamous bug that seems to be making its way around the area. It’s been at home in The Leaven office for about a month now. And, being the charitable group of coworkers that we are, we’ve generously passed it around to one another.
If the incessant coughing wasn’t bad enough, the bug also comes with another side effect: voice canceling or, at least, voice strangling. I thought I’d be smart and rest my voice last Friday evening as I had a couple of big events on Saturday: first confessions for our second-graders and a pastoral visit from Archbishop Naumann. Well, let’s just say the voice was raspy, at best, for the 20-plus confessions and the archbishop’s visit.
Liturgically speaking, I’m sure the Lord got a chuckle from hearing me limp my way through the parable of the prodigal son at the three weekend Masses. Where are those short two-or-three-sentence Gospels when you need them?
In case you’re wondering: I am not a very patient patient. Naturally, nobody likes being sick. That is especially true in this story:
When pastor Tony Campolo was in a church in Oregon, he prayed for a man who had cancer. In the middle of the week, he received a telephone call from the man’s wife who said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.”
I said, “Had?” Whoa, I thought, it’s happened. God actually cured someone through me!
The wife continued, “He died.” Campolo felt terrible.
“Don’t feel bad,” the woman continued. “When he came into church that Sunday, he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up.
“He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness. The more his anger grew toward God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
“After you prayed for him, a peace came over him and a joy came into him. The last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We’ve prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.”
Then the wife said something incredibly profound: “He wasn’t cured, Pastor, but he was healed.” (Found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)
With every illness, there is the opportunity for healing. And I have to admit that with this crazy bug, there has been healing. I’ve been healed of the notion that I’m in control of my schedule. I’m healed of the pride that says my words and opinions are oh-so-important and the world cannot get by without them. I’m healed of the idea that I’m always to be on the giving end, rather than to receive the care of medical personnel, medications and prayers from parishioners. I’m healed, as well, from the belief that the world can’t get by without me. I’ve slept — a lot — over these past few days and the world appears to be doing just fine.
Lately, when people have come to confession, I’ve been reminding them of the difference between a cure and healing. So many times, especially with our favorite sins, we get impatient with God and ourselves and wonder why God won’t just “cure” these sins overnight.
Can God do that? Of course. But there probably is just a slim chance of that happening. There is, however, a 100-percent certainty that something else will occur: God will heal us. Like the man in the story, God promises to bring us joy, forgiveness, peace and the help of his grace.
For the record, Lord, I’m thankful for the healing that’s come my way with this bug.
But, just so you know, I’d sure not refuse a quick cure from it!