One day, when Jesus was in Jerusalem, the Pharisees came up to him and warned that he had better get out of the city because Herod was planning to kill him. Instead of taking their advice and making a hasty retreat, he said to them, “Tell that old fox I have more healing and caring and attending to do.” Jesus’ mission was not to run and hide in fear but to press onward to heal, teach, and preach all the way to the cross.

The fact that Jesus embraced his dark and difficult destiny for our sakes is the very embodiment of courage. This kind of courage seems unimaginable to us, as we will probably never have to face anything quite like Jesus did. But the kind of courage Jesus had was born out of a deep love for others that was willing to act on their behalf in the face of fear.

I never experienced this kind of powerful courage until I had a daughter. When an occasion arose to protect her, a fierce kind of courage rose up in me. It took me by surprise. It was so powerful and unyielding, I was willing to sacrifice myself to protect her at all costs. As one friend said, I was like a mama bear protecting her cub. That courage was fueled by a fierce love I didn’t even know I had.

We see this kind of fierce courage in people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4 was the 54th anniversary of his assassination. In the speech he gave the night before he died, he foresaw that his life was in danger, but like Jesus he was willing to sacrifice in the name of love for those he sought to free. In his speech he said, like anybody else, he wanted to live a long life, but he knew that may not come to be. Each day of his adult life he stepped forward in courage to face the injustices of his people.

I have also seen such fierce courage in the people of Ukraine and their president.

You and I may not have the courage of people like King and Jesus, or any other hero we can name. But I do believe as people who lead contemplative lives, we can find the courage to act on the behalf of others. Thomas Merton and Palmer Parker talk of the contemplative life as one of silence and one of action. In contemplation we start to see the world with eyes of love. In contemplation, the scales on our eyes fall off and our hearts are opened to the suffering and injustices of the world. In contemplation we find that fierce, courageous love that is willing to step forward despite our fears and act on behalf of others.

This kind of fierce love is more than a passing sentiment—it is the willingness to sacrifice something of ourselves for what we value and love most despite our fears.

Prayer
O Gracious One, as our prayers this day reach out to every corner of creation, we ask for the kind of courageous love we need for this time when so much seems precarious in our world. Through our practices may we find just a small measure of the powerful love and compassion you have for all of creation, so that, like Jesus, King, Gandhi and so many more, we might act with holy courage on behalf of those who are suffering the most. May the courageous love you have planted within us underpin all our selfless actions. In gratitude, we pray, Amen.

Artwork by Boonyachoat, Getty Images Pro, courtesy of Canva.

Mission

Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.

Vision

Grounded in our understanding of God’s desire for peace, wholeness and well-being, we envision a world transformed by contemplative living and leadership in which all people honor one another and creation, recognize their unity and interconnectedness, and courageously seek to live out of this reality.

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