Honestly

Last week, I told you how my brother Dave and I love to play one-on-one basketball. Well, we finally played this past Friday. And, honestly… I was good.

But, if I’m being honest, I was just hoping i wouldn’t pass out.

So, to be hones, I was exaggerating, when I say, “I was good.”

It’s interesting though, sometimes we say that word honestly, or that phrase, to be honest, and what follows is sometimes a lie, or at best an exaggeration.

Honestly… The show “This is Us” had an episode with this as the title. Honestly. In the show two of the main characters Kevin and Kate, who are siblings, are having a conversation about their family and the issues they are dealing with related to their mom and other brother. Kate says in a moment of vulnerability, “Kevin I think all of us are trying to deal with issues from our past today. We all have baggage you know.” Kevin feels slightly hurt because he thinks he knows everything about his sister. But in this moment, he has no idea what she is talking about. He doesn’t do a great job hiding this hurt and says in a defensive tone, “what do you mean you have stuff, what stuff?” Kate says, “Nothing… honestly Kevin I’m just tired its a been a really wrong day.” The scene ends with Kevin looking perplexed, concerned, and feeling lied to. He knows that he missed an opportunity to be their for his sister. And he knows that when she said “honestly its been a long day” what that really meant was, “honestly i don’t trust you to open up about this…”

On Thursday, there was a prayer service for priests. A group of people involved in Encounter Ministries, wanted to host an evening of adoration for priests and offer a chance for us priests to be prayed over. Fr. Colin and I decided to go, in fact, we both decided to keep one another accountable. By that I mean, we couldn’t decide we were “too tired” to go. It was a commitment, we were going.

We arrived at the church and the evening of prayer began. It was simple, there was appropriate prayer music in the background, we had adoration of the blessed sacrament, and there encounter prayer teams ready for priests if they wanted to receive prayers. I remember i looked at Jesus in the Sacrament and said, “Lord, I don’t know what to pray for right now.” then in an instant I felt like I had everything to pray for. Which left me paralyzed. What do I tell this group of people? Finally I settled on what I needed to bring to prayer. So I went back to the team and allowed them to pray over me. Immediately they asked how they could pray for me, and I said, “you, know I really struggled with that before I came back here. In what sense I could think of nothing to ask for and then I thought I could ask for everything.” But really what i was struggling with was how honest I wanted to be. How much was I willing to disclose to this group of people.

But here’s the point: Unless we live our lives with honesty. Nothing changes. The character Kate, will not receive healing until she opens up to somebody. Until she can be honest about the baggage she carries nothing will change. Unless we are willing to let others pray for us, for the things that we truly need without regard for how it makes us look, we will continue to feel alone in our struggles. Unless we are honest with God about where we are in our spiritual lives nothing will change.

Honestly, a couple of months ago, I gave that homily about our call to holiness and I used my struggle with weight as an example. I did not want to talk about my weight that weekend. But I did so because it was an important moment to acknowledge honestly for myself where I was at with my own health. Someone who struggles with alchohol will not be free from addiction until they are honest with themselves about the problem. Repent and believe in the Gospel, says Jesus, and the only way we can turn our lives to Lord is if we do so honestly. As we begin our Lenten journey, maybe the best thing we can do is go to the desert with Jesus and honestly tell him about our struggles, our sins, our doubts, and where we need him.

In Christ’s love and friendship,

Fr. Stephen

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