Friday of the 4th Week of Lent
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
The Feast of Tabernacles
Robert Louis Stevenson says: “Keep your fears to yourself; share your courage with others.”
In today’s gospel Jesus surprises the crowds when they find Him preaching in the temple precincts during the feast of tabernacles. They are shocked to see Jesus because of His courage in defying authority and He is teaching openly to people. And so a thought suddenly strike them: “Could the authorities realize that He is the Messiah,” (v. 26). Jesus is able to accomplish God’s will throughout His time in Jerusalem, in spite of the increasing hostility to His message and mission, rejection, verbal harassment and even death threats. Jesus does not let His fear conquer Him. He takes risks because of His love of the Father and the Father is with Him.
Why should we not be afraid? It is because we have been redeemed by God. The late Pope John Paul II (Crossing the Threshold of Hope no. 219) said: The power of Christ’s cross and resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.” It was he too who told us not to fear. It is because he has his eyes fixed on Christ and this is the source of his strength and courage. What an example for all of us to follow! But it takes courage to do this.
What is courage? Courage is not the absence of fear. It is doing what it takes despite our fear. Eddie Rickenbacker (Bits & Pieces, April 29, 1993, p. 12) also said: “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” In relation to this definition I read this story about courage. A condemned prisoner awaiting execution was granted the usual privilege of choosing the dishes he wanted to eat for his last meal. He ordered a large mess of mushrooms. “Why all the mushrooms and nothing else?” inquired the guard. “Well,” replied the prisoner, “I always wanted to try them, but was afraid to eat them before!”
Well, based on this story, courage is like this too:
It takes courage to refrain from gossip when others delight in it, to stand up for the absent person who is being abused.
It takes courage to live honestly within your means and not dishonestly on the means of others.
It takes courage to be a real man, a true woman, to hold fast to your ideals when it causes you to be looked upon as strange and peculiar.
It takes courage to be talked about and remain silent when a word would justify you in the eyes of others but which you dare not speak because it would injure another.
It takes courage to refuse to do something that is wrong although everyone else may be doing it with attitudes as carefree as a summer song.
It takes courage to live according to your own convictions, to deny yourself what you cannot afford to love your neighbor as yourself, to follow the example of our risen Lord!!
Just like Jesus, we should be courageous enough to preach His word and His good news of the Kingdom to other people. It is because God’s love will help us conquer everything. God’s love can turn fear to strength. The example of Jesus teaches us to entrust our lives to divine providence. All things work for the good of those who trust in the Lord. God will always provide for the needs of his children. The only thing we need to do is simply trust and have courage.