As we come to consider and contemplate Jesus’ exodus, His Passover, we need to be aware of His courage. We learn a great deal about our own exodus when we are aware of all His courage means.
Courage is the ability to do what you need to do without being paralyzed by fear and without hesitating to wonder whether you can do it or not. Jesus was sweating with fear as the end approached, but He did not hesitate. He just prayed.
Courage may bring feelings with it, but they are ancillary and not the main truth about courage. Fear and anxiety not only have physical resonances, but may actually begin in a physical reaction to the situation. Humankind retain sensory reactions that protect smaller animals from being eaten by larger animals and all animals from destroying themselves.
Courage in our faith-life is the ability to “do the truth lovingly,” as the first letter of St. John puts it. It is the ability to enact our faith and our believing without being blocked by fear of being “wrong” or of following what rationalists call “the myth of religion.”
In fact, courage in our faith life frees us to accept the truth that has been handed down to us. This means that we trust our own hearing and understanding to the point of not needing what scientific minds insist on: proof. Our “proof” is the tradition of the Church, rooted in the revelations and prophecies of The People of the first Covenants and in the revelations brought by Jesus of Nazareth.
Courage, then, also means being in and belonging to a community and a communion. The earliest Christians imitated the Maccabee brothers and their mother (2 Maccabees 7). And later Christians imitated their own who were killed by Romans in hatred of the faith.
Through the centuries, the Church has sent men and women to foreign peoples to tell the Good News, knowing perfectly well that they would be martyrs in one or other sense. And those who went knew it, too.
Now we live after a century of murdering Christians that added as many martyrs to the list as all the earlier centuries together. Twenty-four were just beheaded in hatred of Christianity and many are dying by being driven from their homes, some of them where Christians have lived since before Mohammed’s time.
We need to ask ourselves how we have reason to be courageous in living out what we have heard and what we believe. Any who wonder whether they need courage to follow Christ must live blinded to the real currents in the world around us.
And all of us need to ask Jesus Christ to pour out on us the courage of the Holy Spirit that saw Him through His exodus, when He had to assent to the tradition handed on to Him. As he would come to tell the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”
What are the things that we need to suffer? and can we expect to enter into our glory?