Judges, Chapter 7, Verse 3
So announce in the hearing of the soldiers, “If anyone is afraid or fearful, let him leave! Let him depart from Mount Gilead!” Twenty-two thousand of the soldiers left, but ten thousand remained.
Fear! Those who are fearful are ruled by their emotions. Gideon knew this emotion well for he was a man afraid. What changed him? It was God! God had changed his fear into hope and love for the reign of God. God had changed his unbelief into resolute iron will.
Saint John Paul II was a sword of Gideon; he reminded us that we too must be unafraid that we must be bold and remember that Gideon did not defeat the Midianites with the sword but with fear.
Gideon needed to lead a night attack against the Midianites and Amalekites. His plan was to have every soldier carry a trumpet and a torch, the latter inside a clay pot, and blow the trumpet and reveal the torch upon command. The racket and the sudden appearance of hundreds of torches would doubtlessly panic the enemy troops, who would have no idea as to how many enemies had come out of nowhere. A night attack, however, involves considerable risk. Even today, only the most skilled soldiers are willing to undertake such a mission. A lot of things can go wrong, and it is very easy to mistake friend for foe in the darkness. There is a good chance of shooting or, in ancient times, stabbing one’s own people unless the operation goes perfectly. Any premature action or loud noise can allow the enemy to draw up his soldiers into formations that can repel an attack. If, for example, one of Gideon’s men dropped his pot by accident during the approach to the enemy camp, the exposed torch would have told the enemy sentries that something was amiss. The job was clearly not one for amateurs, or people who lacked commitment.
The first step was therefore to send away the more than two-thirds of Gideon’s army that was hesitant to fight the enemy. This made eminent sense because fear might easily result in the kind of false move—and it would take only one—that would ruin the operation. Ten thousand soldiers were still, however, ten thousand opportunities for something to go wrong. It wasn’t enough that they were committed and willing to fight; they also had to have the discipline and training necessary to participate in a night attack. As Judges 7.4 through 7.7 continues: “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
“So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
Now those who did not drink like dogs what do you suppose they had in their other hand. Their weapons! They were ready for the battle at any moment. God needs stout hearted men and women. Are you ready?
Heed the words of Saint John Paul the Great:
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21). Evil is never defeated by evil; once that road is taken, rather than defeating evil, one will instead be defeated by evil.
Peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good. Flee what is evil and hold fast to what is good (cf. Rom 12:9). Peace is a good to be promoted with good: it is a good for individuals, for families, for nations and for all humanity; yet it is one which needs to be maintained and fostered by decisions and actions inspired by good. "Repay no one evil for evil" (Rom 12:17). The one way out of the vicious circle of requiting evil for evil is "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12:21). At its deepest level, evil is a tragic rejection of the demands of love(1). Moral good, on the other hand, is born of love, shows itself as love and is directed towards love. All this is particularly evident to Christians, who know that their membership in the one mystical Body of Christ sets them in a particular relationship not only with the Lord but also with their brothers and sisters. The inner logic of Christian love, which in the Gospel is the living source of moral goodness, leads even to the love of one's enemies: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink" (Rom 12:20).