Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so must you also bear witness in Rome. (Acts 23:11) These are the words Paul heard from the Lord as he prepared to go from the backwater of the empire to the very heart of the beast. He has stood before the Sanhedrin, proconsuls, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the Gentile and Jewish people. He also stands before God who says these words to him: Take courage.
I have been watching a video produced by Frontline about early Christians and how the story of Jesus spread throughout the world at a time when Roman troops built roads to conquer peoples. These same roads became the paths along which the Gospel moved. Paul understood that to proclaim Christ in Jerusalem and the Aegean arena was good, but that to take this story to the epicenter of the known world was even better. What did Paul do to prepare for this momentous event?
Paul would have been familiar with the sapiential books of scripture and he would have relied on the kind of wisdom found in the pages we have before us today. The Book of Proverbs is particularly human and endearing; it holds a wealth of spirit-bolstering saws and sayings that when repeated often begin to form the pathways that will open us to better communication with God. When we spend time with these inspired words, it is easier to hear the Lord who says to us softly: Take courage.
Courage is born of wisdom and time spent with God. From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Reflection: Saint Paul’s weapons in the battle for the Gospel were faith in God, love for Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. So armed, he proclaimed the word of God with conviction and success despite all opposition. This mini-reflection is followed by Psalm 18: You, O Lord, are my lamp, my God who lightens my darkness. With you I can break through any barrier, with my God I any scale any wall.
Paul took seriously his call to witness. He proclaimed Christ well and consistently. He spent time with scripture to allow Christ to visit the wisdom upon him that would serve him so well in the daily encounters of life. He carried Christ with him in every relationship, every conversation, every interaction. In the letter to Hebrews Paul, or his disciple, writes: Let us come to God’s presence with confidence, because we will find mercy, and strength when we need it. (4:16)
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus speaks to the father about knowing God’s name and nature, about having a deep intimacy with him. Wisdom comes from time spent listening to the steady beat of God’s heart. Wisdom comes from proclaiming his mysterious love. Wisdom comes from seeking our true and highest potential. Take courage.
The words we find in the Book of Proverbs are training wheels for us when we falter. We might want to copy them out to put them on refrigerators, on bathroom mirrors, inside books as sudden reminders of who we are and what we ought to be about. Take courage.
We can never have too much wisdom. We can never have too much of God. Our search for intimacy is never-ending . . . if we wish to be eternal with Christ. Take courage.
Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.28 (2009). Print.
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