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The difference between courage and vainglory

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When I was in the Marine Corp--during the Stone Age--there was a Boot Camp recruit that always took a peculiar short cut when we were ordered to run down three flights of stairs to an outdoor destination. Instead of running down the stairs, he would jump from the second floor onto the dirt. One might suspect, incorrectly, that this is Marine Corp bravery at its best. Actually, this is an odd-mix of insanity and selfishness, not to mention a lack of discipline.

Not exactly Marine Corp material. He was discharged shortly thereafter.

Similarly, Jesus does not desire sword wielding Christians, producing an aberration otherwise understood as Christian Jihad. Jesus, moreover, does not desire self-led warriors, even if they seem to be warring for the good. I know, for I have been one of these pride-filled-warriors for years. Rather, what Jesus wants is men and women of courage, acknowledging their fears, but overcoming them in Love. What Jesus wants is discipline; the discipline earned through a life embracing the Cross.

What Jesus wants, furthermore, is mature men and women of faith, who sacrifice themselves for others, against their fears, despite their selfishness, through the discipline which comes from the grace of God's Love.

Think about it. Jesus' humanity felt overwhelming fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. To deny this is to deny Jesus' humanity. But, through Jesus' Divinity, Jesus' humanity, One and the same Person (Mystery), accepted the Will of the Father through grace which birthed courage.

So, courage is not a lack of fear, it is the overcoming of fear for Love and Truth. Courage, moreover, forms discipline, and discipline forms courage. Vainglory, on the other hand, does bold, brash things. But they are done for selfish reasons, or in absolute insanity. This is far from Love.

With all this in mind, it might be a good thing to pray for genuine Christian Courage. The kind of courage which illuminates the Goodness, Truth, and Beauty of the Crucified and Risen Lord.