Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 21, 2020
Wow, another incredibly fitting set of readings this weekend. Amazing how the Spirit of God is moving in a particular way with our Liturgy and the Lectionary, providing for us great words to meditate upon in these times and encourage us. There are times when I need to do a little digging and use my creativity to find a relevant message from the Mass readings. Not this weekend!
I'm focusing, in particular, on the Gospel. Our Lord provides a great, laconic exhortation: "Fear no one" (Matthew 10:26). Go ahead and tape that one up on your bathroom mirror.
I've talked a lot about fear before. Fear, I believe, is at root behind a lot of our worries; a lot of things that cause anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, resentment—anything of a heavy nature. We are afraid we our or loved ones will suffer. We are afraid the world, the country, the Church will be wrecked. We are afraid we will be alone and isolated. We are afraid we are miserable. We are afraid God will send us to Hell.
So, Jesus tells us point-blank throughout the Gospels, "do not be afraid." And here, he gives a little more content to that exhortation. First, "do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." Our body can be harmed by others or by the world, but we will be okay. God will take us to eternal life. Our soul is what truly matters, and only, I firmly believe, we can kill the soul. Yes, Satan is the one who plunges the dagger into the soul, but only if we let him. No one can kill our soul. God protects our soul and that is the most important thing that matters in the world.
Second, "Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (I always laugh at myself with this...the amount of time God has spent counting the hairs on my head has certainly decreased over the years!)
This is where nature can assist our faith. Look outside of the beauty of nature. Ok, well, if you're in my situation and you look outside to Touhy Avenue, then go to the Forest Preserve and look. God's hand is behind by the harmony, beauty and design of nature. Whether it's a symmetrical oak or ash tree leaf, a stream through the woods, a family of deer, everything is ordered. This order means the things is functioning as it should, hence it is flourishing and fulfilled. And this means God has provided for it.
Well, our Lord tells us, if God can do this for the sparrows, how much more will he do it for us, who are much more valuable than birds, trees, and streams?
It's basic information, but it's a message we need to hear time and again, for we subtly doubt it when we are afflicted with pain and suffering. We think God has abandoned us or that God isn't providing for us or (worst case) that God is actually doing this to us to make us suffer.
Many people have been out of work these days or seen their finances severely threatened. Many have been sick or seen loved ones get sick and die. Many have had their usual networks and small communities of support taken away from them. Many have been deprived of the usual graces received from the sacraments and sacramentals. It is obvious to see how we could be afraid.
Fear no one and fear no thing, says Jesus. Our Lord will take care of us.
Yours in Christ,