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The Virtue We Need

The apostles are almost comical in their frequent bewilderment concerning Jesus.  Clearly, they never met anyone remotely like him before.  The way he looks at things is so original and surprising. He’s a genius in the way that he speaks to the heart of things in the disarmingly simple stories that he tells.  Most significantly, the apostles see in him a truly compassionate and free person.  Everywhere he goes, he brings hope and healing to the downtrodden.  The spirit that he’s got, they want.  It’s exhilarating.

At the same time, he scares the hell out of them.  They notice that he sparks resistance and hatred from the powerful who find him to be dangerously subversive.  Jesus knows what the authorities can, and almost certainly will, do to him – and yet he persists.  He challenges them to their faces. The apostles wonder how a person can be so fearless.  The courage he’s got, they want.  But it’s more than a little terrifying.

The apostles falter, sometimes spectacularly, in their adherence to his way.  Many times Jesus says to them something that he must often tell himself in his quiet moments, “Do not be afraid.” 

We Christians struggle, as the early disciples did, to understand and emulate his courageous ways.  We often don’t measure up.  Standing up for the poor, confronting oppressive structures, and opposing unjust laws and practices can take a Christ-like bravery. It’s daunting.

Courage is not always listed at the top of virtues to which Christians aspire.  Maybe it should be.


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