Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Men fear Death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.

“Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.” ― St. Teresa of Ávila

Gospel Text: (MK 6:45-52)
After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied,
Jesus made his disciples get into the boat
and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd.
And when he had taken leave of them,
he went off to the mountain to pray.
When it was evening,
the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore.
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing,
for the wind was against them.
About the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
He meant to pass by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea,
they thought it was a ghost and cried out.
They had all seen him and were terrified.
But at once he spoke with them,
“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.
They were completely astounded.
They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened

If you are terrified, how do you respond to the command, “Don’t be afraid”? Can you turn off terror just by willing it? Of course not! It is the assurance that a trusted person is with that when we can begin to mitigate the fear.

How do we generally deal with our fears? What does the world say?

Afraid of germs? Super sanitize yours hands, and don’t shake other people’s.

Afraid of physical decline? Organize your life entirely around diet and exercise.

Are you afraid of strangers, especially poor strangers? Move into a gated community.

Afraid of Iran? Prepare to nuke’em before they get dangerous.

That’s the voice of the world. The first letter of St. John (1 John 4:11-18) says otherwise. Is your life fear driven? Put your love life in order and you’ll get over it. But remember, the love-talk of Scripture is not the soft, romantic kind.

And what, you ask, does all of this have to do with fear? Listen to how today’s first reading (1 John 4:11-18) from Mass ends:

In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.

Love like God? That’s a tall order. But the eternal Son took on human flesh to show us how.

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