June 22, 2017

Love Casts Out Fear

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:28 am by pdamiancp

Scripture Readings for Sunday, June 25, 2017: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33

To all,

When I was looking over the Gospel reading for Sunday, several phrases from various places came readily to mind: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself;” “Relieve me of the bondage of self;” “We have met the enemy, and he is us;” and “Perfect love drives out fear.”

I think part of the reason those phrases came to mind is that in our fairly short Gospel reading, Jesus tells His disciples three times not to be afraid. He tells His disciples not to be afraid to proclaim the Good News: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light.” And if the disciples are fearful about the persecutions that will probably come, He says: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Do you remember that young girl who was attacked in the Middle East (Was it by ISIS?) because she dared to be educated? They attacked her body, but they did not damage her soul!

When Jesus speaks about “the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna,” I thought He was talking about the devil. But the Scripture commentaries tells us that Jesus is telling His disciples to be concerned about God’s judgment (See Matthew 18:8-9). What came to me is how efficiently we can be destructive when it comes to both soul and body. Most of us know people who suffer from some form of addiction. We may know others who are stuck in some kind of spiritual rut. And we know all too well how capable human beings can be in using violence and manipulation against others. Very often our own worst enemy is us.

Where does this destructive behavior come from? I’m not going to presume I have a definitive answer, but since we hear in the Scriptures so often the encouragement not to be afraid, perhaps fear is a major factor. Many people fall into addiction trying to numb themselves or run away from some great pain in their lives. Sometimes we can find ourselves suspicious of people who are different because we fear what changes they may bring, or we fear losing something (dominance, perhaps?). And sometimes this fear turns into bigotry and discrimination and violence, which destroys the body of the victim and the soul of the perpetrator. As long as people fear that others having more means having less for themselves, there will be destruction of body and soul.

We can be fearful in our relationship with God, too. We can be afraid of actually abandoning ourselves totally to Him. We can be afraid that completely turning our lives over to God will mean losing ourselves, or that our surrender may change our lives to an extent with which we are uncomfortable. So, perhaps unconsciously, we hold back in our willingness to surrender to God’s love and will, and try to put some fine print in our relationship with Him. And I wonder if that does not hurt our soul.

So maybe the greatest things to fear are “fear itself” and “the bondage of self.” When we live out of fear and selfishness some sort of destruction follows. What’s the answer? Living in God’s love. After Jesus says, “…rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna;” He also says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So, do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” As we hear in our second reading from Romans: “But the gift is not like the transgression [the sin of Adam]. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for many.” The more we let God’s love in, the more that love “drives out fear,” and the less we get caught up in ourselves. And instead of contributing to destruction, we are contributing to life!

May we let God in and let go of fear, and proclaim God’s love “on the housetops!”

I welcome any comments or questions. Thanks for your time.

In Christ,

Phil, CP

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