Monday after Epiphany
(Matthew 4:12-17; 23-25)
The gospel passage says that Jesus “withdrew to Galilee.” We should not think, however, that Jesus is beating a retreat. Actually, he is charging to the battlefront. Herod Antipas has just arrested John the Baptist for criticizing his unlawful marriage. Jesus leaves hometown comforts to take up John’s banner in Galilee. His message is even the same as John’s, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” Herod Antipas can hardly ignore it. Will he manhandle Jesus as he did John?
Like Jesus we are sometimes – not often, gratefully -- called to show courage. A shouting match turns into a fist fight where someone is going to get hurt. We should intervene. A minority person is accused of wrongdoing, but we know that another – one like us -- did the dirty deed. We must speak up.
Courage is a natural virtue that the love of God poured into our hearts can magnify for supernatural ends. Certainly St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) showed this elevated courage when the Gestapo came to take her, as a Jewish convert, from her Carmelite monastery. Her sister, who had come to stay with her, was deeply shaken. St. Theresa, however, did not resist or seek to hide. She took her sister by the hand saying, “Come, Rosa, we are going for our people.” She meant that she would die, as Christ did, giving testimony to God’s love first for Jews and then for all people.