|Memorial of Saint Benedict,
Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30
Psalm 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40
It’s a little odd for a journalist to be a hero worshiper but I can’t help it. The reporter in me is always alert for stories of courage, especially moral courage. I find such tales moving and fascinating because they speak to the essence of human potential – especially stories of ordinary people who perform extraordinary deeds.
Where did ordinary European Christians find the guts to shelter Jews in Nazi Germany? How did black farmers in Mississippi find the strength to try to register to vote in the early 1960’s? How did my biggest hero, my mother, find the quiet courage to room with a Japanese-American student during World War II? What gave these people the fortitude to do what so many others failed to do?
Today’s readings suggest the source of such moral courage: “Behold I am sending you like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves . . . When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
These ordinary, unsung heroes were people of faith. They believed that if they took risks to do the right thing, they would receive the guidance and strength they needed. Their actions might have a terrible price, but they were not alone because they believed that God would help them when they needed it most.
This is also true for those of us fortunate enough to plod through relatively safe lives in safe places. Even though, mercifully, heroism probably isn’t demanded, with faith in God’s help we can all demonstrate moral courage.
We can speak out against war and violence. Even attending a peace rally or vigil says SOMETHING important. If that offends someone, fine.
We can voice our disapproval when people use derogatory terms disparaging other people or shun a co-worker. If that annoys someone, too bad. God isn’t asking us to be popular.
We can leave our comfort zones to help other people. If this scares us, we need to face down our fears. Jesus asks us to be brave in living the Gospel. The rewards of even such mundane moral courage are immense. Today’s gospel promises that “whoever endures to the end will be saved.” Amen.
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