I prefer strong and courageous heroes, so I'll admit that I'm challenged by the fact that many of the heroes in the Gospel are weak. Look at these unsung figures...
- Simon of Cyrene: A man who was unwilling and hesitant, yet he helped Jesus carry the cross (cf. Lk 23:26).
- The Good Thief: A criminal who was crucified on Christ's right, yet professed faith and entered that day into Paradise (cf. Lk 23:41-43).
- The Centurion: A pagan who helped crucify Christ, yet likewise professed faith when he exclaimed, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (cf. Mk 15:39).
- Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus: Two cowards—"since he was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews"—yet went boldly to Pilate to retrieve the body of Jesus and bury our Lord reverently (cf. Jn 19:38-39).
- Mary Magdalen: A woman who had made poor decisions in her past, yet followed Jesus and was the first person to be visited by him after the Resurrection (cf. Jn 20:1-16).
This motley crew was the band of heroes. I would have been inclined to think it would have been, instead, the apostles—strong and devoted men—but they betray him (Judas), deny him (Peter), doubt him (Thomas), and flee from him (all of them). Even in other Scripture stories, it is the little and unlikely individuals who take the spotlight: the boy David defeating Goliath (1 Sam 17:48-49), the poor widow throwing in two small coins (Lk 21:2-4), the runt Zacchaeus converting to Christ (Lk 19:3-5). I guess Saint Paul was right when he said, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:10).