Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Audacity of Courage
The world of faith is a scary one. It calls for a great deal of courage!
In today’s Scripture we read in Acts 23:11 "The following night the Lord stood by him (Paul) and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’" The original Greek word for courage is tharseō. It not only means courage but has a double recipe of boldness in it. In Scripture courage has a lot of chutzpah.
It is not surprising that Jesus often urges us to have the audacity of courage in the Bible. "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart (tharseō); I have overcome the world." John 16:13 In the Hebrew Scriptures this concept of bold courage is expressed very often by the word batach. It is used 120 times and means bold confidence. Bold courage does not rule out fear; but it does eliminate out of control panic. After all, Paul needed the reassuring presence of Christ standing by him when he said "courage." Courage without fear is reckless stupidity!
One naturally thinks of examples of courage on the battle field. Not long ago I visited Gettysburg’s bloody angle where on the third day of battle there was about 8000 casualties! There some 12,500 men charged over 1000 yards of open field to capture Cemetery Hill. Out of these twelve thousand or so Confederate soldiers, headed by General Armistead who was quickly killed, only about 2,500 got over the wall. The rest of his men were killed, captured, or retreated. With his hat placed on his sword Armistead led his troops "from the front." Certainly this man had courage and daring!
But all of us in our frightening life of faith have to have even more audacity! We all have to face daunting problems of health, family, and fate. Even death itself we must face with chilling courage. Paul needed Christ Himself to stand by him saying, "courage," and so must we!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.