Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
From Moses confronting Pharaoh to Jesus hanging on the cross, much of our scriptures speak of the triumph of faith over fear. Throw in David staring down Goliath, John the Baptist in the wilderness, and Mary saying “yes” to Gabriel, and you notice a bona fide theme. In fact, time and again across both the Old and New Testaments, we are given stories of ordinary people who confront gut-wrenching decisions over whether to believe in fear and anxiety or believe in the love that is God. The heroes, of course, always find the courage to set fear aside and trust God.
Even now, thousands of years later, our heroes are those who put their own lives on the line, trusting love over fear. From the abolitionist Harriet Tubman to St. Maximilian Kolbe, from Blessed Oscar Romero to Dorothy Day, we choose to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who find the faith within to stand against fear. Why? Because deep within our souls we recognize this as right and good. This, we believe and profess, is how we are all called to live.
At some point in our lives, we each come face-to-face with this same soul-defining question: do I place more trust in my faith or in my fear? Oh, it is easy to say, “God is love,” “I believe in Jesus Christ” and “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” But what wins the day when our own security is on the line? On a macro level, we are confronted with this question in public debates regarding Syrian refugees, immigrants, and gun control. Do we, as a community, truly have the courage to trust this God of love and life? Or do we ultimately succumb to our fears and anxieties? Will we courageously take the risks needed to live lovingly? Or will we submit to our insecurities and live fearfully?
Setting aside the uncomfortable communal issues, we face this same question within our personal spiritual lives.
~To live lovingly is to share our gifts with others; to live fearfully is to mask our vulnerabilities.
~To live lovingly is to become a servant of those on the margins; to live fearfully is to seek protection from those who are unlike us.
~In all cases, to live lovingly involves embracing our Holy Oneness with all humanity, whereas to live fearfully involves dividing people by nations, ethnicities, religions, and/or social economics.
It’s a tough challenge, this Daniel-facing-down-the-lion business. All around us we smell the scent of hatred and hear the growl of violence. Ten minutes with the news will leave any of us quivering like rabbits stalked by wolves. Vulnerability is inevitable. Fear is natural. Faith seems almost counterintuitive, perhaps even naive. And yet, brave and courageous love is our only true hope.
It would sure be a lot easier if faith made fear go away. But it doesn’t work that way. Even Jesus in his hour of distress was sweating blood. The choice isn’t about having one or the other; it is about trusting one over the other. There is no evidence on earth to believe love makes our world safer, but there is all the evidence in heaven to believe love makes our world more peaceful. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Deacon Steve Meyer