The other word that I linked with COURAGE is MEEKNESS. That sounds such an unlikely combination! To our ears meekness sounds weak, soft and utterly unimpressive. A headline in this past week's sports pages described a meek Premier Football team that was failing to show bravery, grit, determination and hardwork. That's what we think of meek. But it's not how the Bible views it, how Jesus sees it. For him it's a quality of gentleness (yes) but with the strength of steel. It's strength under God's control and it involves bravery grit, determination with huge restraint under aggression and provocation. And that is exactly what Jesus demonstrates through Holy Week. The donkey he rides is a symbol of meekness. We would expect a king entering a city to be seated on the biggest animal with a colour party and show of strength. But that is not God's way. It wasn't at Christmas - a baby born in a stable. It isn't at Easter, the king on a donkey.
What insights this gives us into the third Beatitude: Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. For Jesus goes alone to absorb all the hatred and rejection of this week - betrayal, denial, abandonment, injustice, mockery, cruelty, pain, nails on a cross. Hideous yet endured with such grace, forgiveness and love. With meekness.
The Beatitude seems a little extreme - promising that the meek will inherit the earth. How could this way of meekness be successful? To an aggressive grasping seizing society this sounds absurd. Some graffiti said on the top line: The meek will inherit the earth, and underneath If that's all right with the rest of you. But inherit is not about grasping and seizing but about receiving and accepting in God's purpose. We have been brainwashed into thinking that happiness depends on grabbing as much to our self-advantage as possible. How could this rejected lonely figure whose broken body is taken down from public execution and sealed in a tomb possibly end triumphant? Yet he will reign over a kingdom which will last forever, forged into history by a Cross and Resurrection.
The implications of meekness are huge.......