This week’s prayer (the collect for proper 10), distilled says:
God, give us knowledge & understanding of what we’re supposed to do, and give us grace & power to do it. Amen.
According to the Abridged & Practical Diction of Sare Liz, Knowledge def.: practical know-how. Understanding def.: the deeper wisdom of why. Power def.: the ability to make possible things happen. Grace def.: the divine ability to make impossible things happen; from the Catechism: ‘Grace is God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.’
So, let’s talk, then, about Christian Courage, or if you will, the Christian courage of martyrdom. It’s a cause & effect chain reaction. Because I (if I use myself as an example) understand deep in my bones that I am loved, holy, and safe, I can step out in courage and hope, having hog-tied my fears just the moment before, to say challenging words of compassion and love to a world that embraces violence and rage, fully knowing that the world’s gut instinct will be to kill me, and if not to kill me, then to disgrace and impoverish me, consigning me to the margins of poverty and shame, but that I no longer care – not a whit. And if I, using myself as an example, speak love and compassion to a violent and rageful world, it does not matter if I fail or succeed by anyone’s measure, even my own, because I already know that I am loved, holy, and safe. This thing I do is in response to that understanding – it is in no way an action meant to earn such a blessing that might, in the event of failure in someone, anyone’s eyes, fail to earn the blessing. The blessing (being loved, holy, and safe) is unearned and precedes all. Failure to understand that cause and effect relationship is a failure to understand the good news of Christ, the gospel of Christianity, the deepest and most prevalent point of this global religion, and indeed, the joy of God.
Maybe. I could be wrong.
But even if I am, God, give me the knowledge and understanding of what I’m supposed to be doing, and give me the power and grace to actually do it, because I suspect that just because the world needs to hear it, doesn’t mean large swaths of the world are going to love it. Or maybe they will. But give me strength, if they love it or if they hate it, to bear up under the scrutiny. Amen.