“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” ~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Today is Monday within the Octave of Easter. Christmas and Easter are such important solemnities in the Catholic Church that we do not celebrate them merely for a day. No, we celebrate them for an entire octave. The last day of the Octave of Easter is the Second Sunday of Easter, Mercy Sunday. We will reflect more upon mercy on that day.
Today, we look at an important virtue: courage. The man who most embodied courage, as far as I am concerned, is Jesus Christ. He knew He was licked before he began, yet He began nonetheless and saw it through to its inevitably horrible conclusion. That would be the crucifixion. Jesus knew that His message was going to be unpopular. He knew that He would be rejected by many. He knew all of this because He had a perfect understanding of His people. He knew that they had wondered far from God.
Many people whom Jesus encountered were living their own lives and using their religion for their own ends. Through the centuries, God’s people had grown away from the commandments and forgot about what it meant to be faithful. They had a practice of putting to death the prophets who tried to set them straight. They were on a course away from the Kingdom. God wanted to intervene and, thus, sent His Son.
Jesus had no small task. He had to get the attention of the people so that He could begin to turn them back to God. He started by choosing simple folk, the fishermen. Simple people have a tendency to see the world in an entirely different way than very complex people. The complexly educated class had reworked or interpreted the Mosaic law to their own advantage. They were used to rationalizing the way they lived their lives. The fishermen, the farmers, and others, on the other hand, were more open to Jesus’ parables and teachings.
As Jesus worked among His people, His clarion call was to come back to God. As His cousin, John the Baptist, would do, Jesus would remind others of the need to repent because the Kingdom of God was at hand. To prove it, He raised the dead, cured the sick, restored sight to the blind, calmed the stormy seas, and performed other great miracles.
All this took an incredible amount of courage because He knew that every miracle He worked, every sign that He gave, every word that He spoke were all being scrutinized by the leaders of the people and were going to be used against Him. He did not allow the backlash or the threats to stop Him. He carried on. All the way to Calvary.
News of His resurrection was unwelcome. This morning’s Gospel will recount how the authorities decided to spread the lie that His disciples came to the tomb in secret and stole His body so that they could perpetuate the story of His resurrection. Speaking the truth, even to this day, may be greeted with ridicule or rejection. We know that to be the case.
Do you have the courage to speak the truth anyway? Sure you do. It’s one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Summon it up and use it to let others know that Jesus is risen as He said. Alleluia, Alleluia!
FAITH ACTION: Do not be afraid to let others know of your belief in Jesus Christ. Ask for the courage to proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection to someone today.