The truth about St. George may surprise us, especially the fact that he wasn’t English. However, one thing that we know about St. George is that he is supposed to have fought and killed a dragon and, in the process, to have rescued a damsel in distress with whom he fell in love.
Unfortunately, George is one of those saints about whom we know very little with any certainty. He seems to have been brought up as a Christian and to have been a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor, `Diocletian. Diocletian was a great persecutor of Christians and George was martyred for failing to recant his faith, allegedly on 23rd. April in the year 303.
Even these minimal facts may not be historically true, but let us assume that there was someone called George and that he was a soldier and a martyr.
St. George’s Day is rarely marked by any special events and does not even earn us a Bank Holiday. In the world of mythology St. George is a hero, but you and I are not called to be heroes in a mythical world, rather we are called to be faithful servants of Jesus Christ in a real world.
It is often said that Christianity is caught not taught. What people really want is to see that faith makes a difference, a real and deep difference, in a persons life. It is said that courage isn’t the absence of fear, courage is to know fear and then to confront the cause of that fear head on. No doubt George felt fear when he saw martyrdom staring him in the face.
But there are plenty of other varieties of courage. There’s standing up for what you believe in despite opposition and ridicule. For working for a just cause and seeming to get nowhere. the list is endless. Every aspect of our lives, both public and private, offers us the opportunity to act courageously rather than backing off in fear, which is so incredibly easy to do. Like St. George, we are called to exercise courage.
Today is a day of dragons, but it is also a day of saints, not riding white horses, but walking out into the world looking much like you and I.
The world needs people exactly like you. It needs you to love it, to nurture goodness within it. It needs you to believe that in the end love prevails over hate, that the darkness cannot overcome the light, that it is life, not death, that has the final word. It needs you to live bravely for the sake of a Gospel that would see all people set free.