Herod is a weakling and a coward; he has very little character worth mentioning. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast we celebrate today, on the other hand, is completely the opposite! Herod does not even have the strength to defend the life of a man whom he knows is innocent! Ignatius will stand for the truth in the face of persecution and suffering because he knows the truth is worth any price that he, personally might have to pay.

People would probably look at Herod and say he was a strong man after all he was the ruler of Galilee and its environs. He also holds the lives of many people in his hands as John the Baptist was about to find out! But the opposite is true. All the armies in the world are incapable of storming the gates of heaven to force entry; a righteous man will enter without even having to raise his voice, let alone an army! It all depends on how we measure strength, upon what we focus when we talk about strength of character, if we want to know who are the strongest men and women to walk the earth.

In my books Mother Theresa, barely five feet tall, was one of the most powerful and strong people to live. Her strength of character and integrity would put most people to shame. There is no doubt that she was a righteous woman (I am also sure she had her fair share of flaws as well) and she was never afraid to stand for the truth and to live it in her life. This is what makes a person worth emulating in our own lives! It is the example that we ought to seek to be putting before the youth of today.

Jesus spoke and lived with authority because he spoke and lived the truth no matter what it might cost him. Francis of Assisi renounced his inheritance to embrace Lady poverty and live the life of a poor man and so witness to the extraordinary gift of God’s providential care in our lives. All the saints heard a call from God and followed it to the best of their ability! Ah, yes, that is what we are all called to do – follow the will of God to the best of our ability. Anything we might lack in our lives will be made up for with the grace of God.

What do I see as strength and courage when it comes to assessing such characteristics in the lives of others?

Lord Jesus, help me to grow in strength of character so that my life will be the beacon it should be of righteous living; a light for all to see.