If you’re bored, be bold.
Some of you may know the story of The Phantom Tollbooth, a book by Norton Juster. In the story, Milo is a 10-year-old boy suffering boredom during his summer vacation. One day, he gets home and finds a huge surprise in his room. Unexpectedly, a huge box has arrived. Accordingly, he opens it and assembles the parts inside until he confronts a tollbooth. Unsure of what to do, he drives his toy electric car through the contraption and transports to another world.
He receives a mission to rescue two princesses, nieces of the two great rulers of the land: King Azaz and the Mathemagician. But first, he must pass through the Doldrums. This part of the book caught my attention. As they travel through this area, they are overcome with tiredness and begin to move very slowly. After much determination, he escapes and continues his great adventure. If you want to know more about the story, read the book.
Life is a drudgery, sometimes
Today’s liturgy proposes a parallel story. Job 7:1 is one of my favorite verses. In Latin, it reads, Militia est vita hominis super terram. The translation we have in our liturgy reads: “is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?” (Job 7:1) We all have moments when our lives seem like drudgery. Life seems to pass us by in slow motion and we are frustrated by the lack of progress of our life goals. Perhaps, we feel frustrated because work is not going the way we would like.
Getting out of the doldrums
How do we get out of the doldrums? Everything feels more tedious in the doldrums. Accordingly, our motivation lags. When we feel lazy and slow, we need to change our attitude. We all experience drudgery from time to time, so it is important to figure out how to transform drudgery into drive. It is good to be bold.
Transforming drudgery into drive
By being bold, Jesus shows us what it means to have meaning and purpose. We need meaning and purpose to transform drudgery into drive. In the Gospel, Mark describes one day in the life of Jesus. Strikingly, he knows what his purpose is. He is curing the sick, expelling demons, and preaching the Kingdom of God.
Since he has run out of time during the day to pray, he spends the night united to his Heavenly Father. He feels compelled to do this, not out of duty, but out of love. His day seems exaggeratedly exhausting, and yet he is always ready for more. Accordingly, his grit leads him to help many people who are waiting for God.
When he is in the deserted place praying, Simon and the other disciples interrupt his prayer. He refuses to get upset and sets out. Knowing that this is what the Heavenly Father is asking of him spurs him on.
Pope Francis speaks about having this type of attitude in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Speaking of the topic, he describes Christians as “spirit-filled evangelizers.”
Mission in life: Be bold
Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God’s wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 262)
Accordingly, becoming spirit-filled evangelizers is one of the greatest gifts we could possibly receive from the Holy Spirit. We need courage to proclaim the Gospel with the same gusto and spirit as the Apostles at Pentecost. What does it mean to proclaim the Word in the language of each person? It means that we are understanding them, accepting them, and loving them enough to tell them the truth. We can never hide the truth as Christians. The truth is too powerful to distort or to destroy.
The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 262)
In this passage, Pope Francis rescues the term of boldness, (parrhesía in Greek) from the New Testament vocabulary. Boldness is a virtue that should characterize us as Christians. Since we have the greatest news in the history of the world, namely that God himself became man to save us from our sins, it is only right that we see it as our mission to share this news with others. Accordingly, it would be a shame for us to be overcome by boredom when in fact we have every reason to rejoice. If you’re bored, be bold.
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