Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.

I wanted to tell you this, to tell you: courage, go forward, make noise. Where there is youth, there should be noise. Then, we’ll adjust things, but the dreams of a young person always make noise. Go forward! In life there will always be people with proposals to curb, to block your way. Please, go against the current. Be courageous, courageous: go against the current - Pope Francis (August 2013 to youth)

Scripture text: (2 MC 6:18-31)
Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man advanced in age and of noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, spitting out the meat as they should do who have the courage to reject food unlawful to taste even for love of life.

Those in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring his own provisions that he could legitimately eat, and only to pretend to eat the sacrificial meat prescribed by the king. Thus he would escape death, and be treated kindly because of his old friendship with them. But he made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood. Above all loyal to the holy laws given by God, he swiftly declared, “Send me to Hades!”

“At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many of the young would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. If I dissemble to gain a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring defilement and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid human punishment, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hand of the Almighty. Therefore, by bravely giving up life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.”

He spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned, saying: “The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.” This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of nobility and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.

God is always calling us to a better life than the one we are living — a happier, more complete and more fulfilling life. Sometimes we reject God because his gift seems to require too much effort from us, too much sacrifice. For many — maybe all of us, at times — the cost of letting God more fully into our lives seems too high. He seems to ask too much and it is tempting to ignore God’s constant call to conversion.

We all have a tendency to become comfortable with the familiar, so much so that it can cripple our ability to receive God’s grace and effectively end our conversion process — the process of letting God turn us into better disciples and better people. Stagnation is a real danger in the spiritual life, a danger that God wants to save us from.

When we cooperate with God’s grace we can expect miracles in our own lives — miracles no less great than the raising of the dead. Saint Paul once persecuted the church with great energy and enthusiasm. He was literally a murderer of Christians but God transformed him into a saint. Saint Paul ultimately had a conversion experience and became the greatest missionary the church has ever produced. God gave Saint Paul a new life. He raised him from the death of life apart from God.

How does God want to raise you from the dead? How does he want to transform you and convert you? What parts of your life is God asking you to leave behind? What new life is God calling you to? These are questions that every Christian should ask. What is keeping God from working in your life? Is it apathy? Are you too comfortable with life and unwilling to welcome God’s saving grace?

When we answer God and allow him to transform us, He never disappoints.

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