The Courage to be Christian

The Woman taken in Adultery, c.1621 (oil on canvas)

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery, by Guercino, 1621

Are you courageous?  Do you consider yourself to be brave?  Would someone who knows you say about you: “I would go into battle with this person”…?

Have you seen the classic war movie with the scene where an officer gives a fiery speech and inspires his soldiers just before they have to go off into some great battle?  Perhaps some of you have not seen the movie, but rather have actually lived it.  If so, thank you.

Or have you seen any of the Patriot’s Super Bowl Championship films which recount their ascent to the top?  There are always scenes of Coach Belichick inspiring the players, saying things like: “Do your job!”  Anyone who has watched Super Bowl 51 and that crazy, historic comeback win knows that those players would, and did, go into battle together.

I read today’s Gospel (Matthew 10: 26-33) as a fiery inspirational speech, one where Jesus calls upon his disciples to get ready to go into battle together.  To do their jobs.  And to know that despite whatever was to come in the future, which he knew was going to be very, very difficult for them… they were to have courage.

I’m sure you get the fact that if Jesus was delivering a message to his disciples back then, that he was also delivering it to us today as well.  So that’s why I ask… are you courageous?  Do you have the courage… to be a Christian?  Remember that we are called upon to pick up a cross and to follow.  This was not supposed to be a cake walk.  So, are you ready to go into battle?

Going into battle.

This is what that means to me…

Consider the crowd standing in a circle and pointing at sin in the form of a woman caught in the act of adultery.  Then consider that same crowd after Jesus ministered to them, touched their lives.  Of course, he instructed that whomever among them was without sin themselves could throw the first stone.  You know the rest of the story.  There was the crowd before and the crowd after.  A crowd transformed by Christ.

Are we willing to be similarly transformed by Jesus?

Into those who forgive.  Those who ask for forgiveness and admit that we are sinners ourselves.

Are we willing to embrace those who disgust us?

Are we willing to step outside of our comfort zones and to admit that we do love Jesus and that we would like very much for him to become the center of our lives?

Are we willing to prioritize our faith and to live lives that showcase this fact, even among those who think we’re strange… or worse… for doing so?

Are we willing to show restraint and not give in to our every desire?

Are we willing to see the good in others, even when we are the ones standing in a circle and pointing our fingers at them?

This is what it means to be touched by Jesus, to be transformed by him.  This is what it means to say… yes, I will go into battle for him.  And I will not be afraid.

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