Where Does Courage Come From?

A man approaches Jesus and pleads for help for his afflicted child. The father is at his wits end and he fears that even Jesus will not be able to help. But Jesus replies to the request for help by saying: “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” And the father of the child cries out in anguish, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

This unnamed father speaks to an issue that touches many of us, even people deeply engaged within the Christian community. There is nothing new about abandoning Jesus. Every one of his disciples fell away in fear as the mob approached the Garden of Gethsemane. Betrayal and abandonment built on a foundation of insufficient belief left the followers in a condition of despair, guilt and shame. Their unbelief overcame their belief and they fled, leaving Jesus behind to be taken prisoner by his enemies.

The passage below is worth reading and rereading because it shows that love is the true foundation of belief and out of this belief in Jesus Christ flows the courage to act even when risks are involved. The women who followed Jesus during his time of ministry show that genuine love overwhelms fear and doubt. “For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) Unbelief is conquered by one’s love and devotion to Jesus Christ. Then all things do become possible.

Jesus has died. He is a corpse. Those holy women had no expectations. They had seen how he had been abused, and how he had been crucified. How vivid in their minds was the violence of the Passion he had undergone!

 They knew, too, that the soldiers were keeping watch over the place. They knew that the tomb was sealed shut. “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door?” they asked themselves, for it was a massive slab. But all the same, in spite of everything, they went to be with him.

 Look: difficulties, large and small, can be seen at once. But if there is love, one pays no heed to these obstacles: one goes ahead with daring, with conviction, with courage. Don’t you have to confess your shame when you contemplate the drive, the daring, and the courage of these women?

Italicized Passage from The Forge by Josemaria Escriva

One thought on “Where Does Courage Come From?

  1. Dennis McClellan

    We’ve all abandoned Jesus at one time or another (more times than we can remember) throughout our lives. No matter our circumstance in life, no matter our social status, regardless of our education, forgetting our occupation or martial status or sexual preference…we’ve flat out walked away from Jesus.

    We all want ‘to be with Jesus,’ when the going is smooth and unchallenging, when there is no threat to our personal well-being. However, give us a chance to bolt, and we often do — sometimes with little or no thought about the process — we just flee. And, of course, like the infantile people we are — with all of the guts and conviction of a coward, make self-centered, uncaring, unfiltered decisions that fly in the face of what we’ve been asked of by Jesus. It’s a lot easier than having conviction and moral character.

    Of course, when it all goes south, who do we call upon? Who do we ask for strength and forgiveness? And, when the next challenge crosses our path, will we have the conviction and faith-strengthened spine to stand fast, to buck what seems an obvious and safe decision, and to witness? We can’t be the hands and feet of Jesus one moment and the quivering, shame filled and doubt ridden Christian we ‘choose’ to be, the next. As forgiving as Jesus is, there is a time when we need to step up and forget that he’ll forgive us if we turn away…and step into the frey, take a stand, and demonstrate rather than orate. It isn’t very PC to speak and act and be Jesus. But, if we permit ourselves, the courage to do so will emerge.

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