Everyone needs a champion. When our lives take an unexpected turn and we find ourselves up against forces or circumstances that threaten to overwhelm us, we need someone who is willing to go before us, to march headlong with courage into the fray, even if it means taking a few lumps on our behalf.
Centuries ago it was the function of knights to be champions for the poor and the weak and the wounded. The role of medieval knights in an age of chivalry was to be protectors of the helpless and the unarmed – the priest, the peasant, the child, the widow. They readily put their lives in jeopardy for the sake of others, even strangers. In the ethic of the “Round Table,” personal glory came from royal service and selfless sacrifice.
Everyone needs a champion, and Mary had hers in the person of Joseph, her soon-to-be groom. But it didn’t have to be this way. Joseph, upon being told in a dream that Mary was pregnant out of wedlock and that the child was not his, might justifiably have moved on with his life without Mary, “dismissing her quietly” so as not to disgrace her, but dismissing her nonetheless. Because her life had taken a sudden and unexpected turn, so too had his. Joseph had his questions, his doubts, and his fears. He also had a perfectly good, biblically based excuse for giving up on Mary altogether. But in the end, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, Joseph did not flinch. He not only stayed with Mary, but became her Champion in service to the coming of a new King (Matthew 1:18-25).
Who’s your champion? To whom, in your life, have you become a champion? Everybody needs one, and everybody who pledges to serve the King is called to become one. A champion is someone who has overcome their greatest opponent – their very self – by blocking off all possible escape routes, testing their limits, and striving, struggling, and standing for what matters most.
You can be one of them, if you want.