June 22, 2008
ORDINARY 12 (A)
Do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Mt. 10: 31
Fear is an important factor in survival. It enables us to recognize danger so that we may attack or avoid the danger: the old fight or flight syndrome. Yet like many of the things we humans are gifted with, we seem to overdo it & turn it into something more destructive than helpful; hence the expression ‘paralyzed by fear.’ Unreasonable fear not rooted in reality we call paranoia, something that can be truly disruptive.
One of the golden threads that run through all of Scripture is the theme, “Fear not.” This is anything but a prescription for being naďve or even deaf, blind & dumb. It is something born of an unshakeable faith that helps us to put our fears in perspective & deal with them constructively.
The way a seed withstands the sun is by developing roots. For the Christian, this means knowing & holding onto the deeper realities of our faith, & these always have to do with our spiritual identity, the nature of God & His purposes for creation. It is only people who are in touch with their own souls & their grounding in God who will have the courage & resolve to persevere in the face of persecution or the traumas of life.
The first root to be developed is the realization that “the word of God is not chained” (2 Tim. 2: 9). On the one hand there are those who, for their own selfish reasons, will try to bottle up & prevent the Gospel of Christ from being heard or effective. On the other hand, there are the “slings & arrows of outrageous fortune” that make us all cringe & despair of the relevancy or effectiveness of God’s Word. Either way, the soul rooted in God does not shrink away but joins in God’s work. Efforts or events that tend to silence the Truth will have the opposite effect: it becomes an opportunity to proclaim the Truth, sometimes with words.
Secondly, fears have a hierarchy arranged around how much damage might be done. One can kill the body but fail to touch the spirit of a person. The person who can destroy our spirit is far more dangerous. The Nazi tactic in the concentration camps was to demean people to the point where they gave up on hope & living. Many died without having to be sent to the gas chambers.
This is why the third root is most important: to remember & realize Ultimate Love. What is not valuable in our human world is often the object of divine love & care. What we humans consider insignificant, God prizes. God’s ways are not our ways. If the Father knows & cares about the passing of sparrows, how much more will He know & care for the passing of His children who are so valuable that even their hairs are numbered & recorded. This is why we can say that all the saints, even the martyrs, died happy: they had learned that their fate was in the hands of God, which are far more trustworthy hands than any we can devise. Faith does not abolish fear – it just puts it on a chair in a room instead of allowing it to fill the whole room. AMEN!