A Hero for Our Time
All my life I have heard that, of the twelve apostles when the crisis came, one of them betrayed the Lord, and ten ran away, the chief among them denying that he even knew him. Paintings of the Crucifixion show Mary the mother of Jesus at the foot of the Cross, with Mary Magdalene, perhaps one or two of the other sorrowing women, and the Apostle John, who is young and beardless and for that reason, I suppose, of no concern to the Roman soldiers. Then came Pentecost, and the eleven, huddled in the upper room in Jerusalem, grew bold and cheerful in the Spirit, and they went forth and did as Jesus had commanded them when he last spoke to them at Bethany, in his risen flesh. They made disciples of all nations, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).
All this is true, yet it may be too easy for us to say—we who are not in danger of being sentenced to the protracted misery of the mines, or to the agony of the cross. Perhaps it is also too easy to say about those same apostles that they were transformed, no longer the slow-thinking, often-sulking, and danger-shying men they had been. They were a new creation, no doubt. But they were also the same men, in the same flesh, with memories that would haunt them or bless them till the day they died.
What must it have been like to be one of those apostles, and to know, years later, how little you understood of what Jesus had said, and how poor a part you had played in that brief time when he taught the people and wrought wonders among them? The apostles were heroic in a way we find hard to understand—heroic in self-knowledge, and duty, and love. We are encouraged at every pass to think well of ourselves, falsely. We are like Simon the Pharisee, who thought he had only smallish things to be forgiven—not like that woman with the ointment and the tears.
In Peter's Footsteps
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire. His many books include Sex in the Unreal City: The Demolition of the Western Mind, Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a regular contributor to Chronicles, Crisis Magazine, The Claremont Review, Inside the Vatican Things, The Catholic Thing, and American Greatness. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy. He is a Roman Catholic and lives with his wife in New Hampshire. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives