Friday, February 2, 2007
6. We Don't Have to Be Afraid!
Jesus of Nazareth, the Risen Christ in Glory, and the Father, working together in the power of the Holy Spirit, have ensured that sin and death have no ultimate power over us, no matter what we may face in our lives. As we participate in the Eucharist and engage God in the actions of our lives, God places his own awesome power over sin and death at the center of our lives.
Once you and I can feel assured that God is truly Emmanuel – God with us – and that his love pours this power into our lives, we can come to realize that we don’t have to be afraid. We can face the challenges of each day in the assurance of God’s love and power at the center of our lives. “By your cross and resurrection you have set us free…!” we say in the mass when the priest asks us to “proclaim the mystery of our faith.”
This does not mean, of course, that we will never face opposition or challenge again. Quite the contrary. Our lives, spent building his Kingdom, will always attract opposition from those motivated by envy, self-importance, and personal gain. The more dedicated to the Kingdom we become, the stronger this opposition can be.
But as we make the cross of Christ and sacrifice of Christ central to our own lives, we can receive God’s sustaining help in the face of trial.
The Good News of Christ is that his Resurrection is also central to our lives. And so we can count not only on his presence in the face of trial but also that he will pull us through these trials into fuller and more abundant life. The Lord does this for us, just as the Father pulled the Son through sin and death into the fullness of resurrected life.
My father always feared death and so always contemplated suicide. But in his hour of trial his attempt at suicide failed on a dark, cold, forbidding January day. Nonetheless, he entered into death with ample pain-relieving medication and his family around him. The next morning the sun shone brightly, the cold air was crisp, and the feeling was one of renewal and rebirth. And so it was. The Lord in his love had led my father through death into new life, just as he had led my family and me through the death of our father into new life. The brilliant sunlight was the Lord’s testimony to us that he – the Lord of Heaven and Earth – had triumphed once more over human fear, limitation, and death.
So, it is as we celebrate the Eucharist. “Lord, I am unworthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” And so we are.