Having grown up on military bases and having many friends who are in the military, I have seen time and time again how important courage is to our armed forces. When I have encountered men who also are committed to Jesus Christ, I have found an inspiring combination of grit and devotion. For them, faith in Jesus Christ runs deeper than external practices, and involves a deep commitment to values that extend us beyond our comfort zone. Such men have no hesitancy in seeing the value of sacrifice.
We are called to have such courage and grit in our spiritual life. Soldiers often have to face death and remain in control in its startling presence. Such confrontations require that soldiers conquer there natural fears and instincts. We too must face our fears and the deep roots of sin in the heart. We must move beyond our comfort zones and enter into the heart; the place of encounter with Jesus Christ and yet also the place of the cross, the place in which we must confront the ravages of sin.
Our dying to self requires that we face death and conquer it through dying to our limited ways of seeing and thinking. We must learn to enter into death, to die with Jesus Christ, and so to enter with him into the Resurrection. This cycle of death and birth is initiated in the sacrament of Baptism. We are buried with Christ and with him we rise to new life. Yet humans are creatures born in time. Nothing in our life remains static. Although we receive the fullness of divine life at our Baptism, we remain bound to time and must constantly seek to renew our vigor. We must live out our Baptism day in and day out. We must constantly return to the source, allowing for our on-going conversion to transform us.
In Christian meditation, we learn to enter into this dying and rising. We allow the silence to draw out our prayer, leading us deeper into the mystery which we received at Baptism. In this inner exploration, there is a two-fold revelation. We discover who Christ is through internalizing his word, a word that ultimately moves beyond surface meaning. We also discover our true identity; who we really are when the layers of pollution and illusion are removed by the penetrating light of Christ.
Today, let us have the courage to be soldiers for Christ. Let us dare to let Christ take possession of our hearts that we might receive his peace.