Preparation In Place of Fear
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-8
Throughout his Papacy, Pope John Paul II, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, was fond of saying “be not afraid.” Today’s 1st Reading (Romans 5:12, 15, 17-19, 20-21) reminds us why we need not be afraid, while our Gospel (Luke 12:35-38) offers us an alternative to fear. More on that in a moment.
“Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.” Paul explains on his letter to the Romans (5:12), going on to explain that “If by that one person's transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ?” You can’t argue with that logic.
Whether it’s the devil at work within us creating fear and uncertainty or perhaps the relentless and distracting pace at which this secular world storms ahead which in turn causes us to forget the common fundamental precepts which otherwise guide our lives, we at times lose sight of these very logical core tenets of our reality as Christian believers. Jesus can and will rise above everything. Shortcomings, sin, death... there is nothing he hasn’t already defeated. Evil is simply not coequal with God. As Saint John Paul II’s successor Pope Benedict XVI once said “Evil comes from a freedom created, a freedom abused.”
In our Gospel today (Luke 12:35-38), Jesus implores us to be prepared for his second coming. Vigilance is the word used to describe those blessed servants that the Lord finds upon his arrival, a vigilance rooted in repentance, humility and perseverance. This is the mindset of a genuine Catholic Christian; hopeful optimism born out of a thriving relationship with Jesus and his Mother wherein wisdom, patience and obedience are its hallmarks.
Always repentant. Always humble. Always hopeful. Always prepared.
”Pray, hope and don’t worry” was the battle cry of Saint Padre Pio, another contemporary of Saint John Paul II. It is through vibrant prayer and unceasing hope that worry ultimately dissipates, for we know that the eternal battle has already been won; it’s merely now a matter of how fruitful our journey will be. How many souls can we touch? How many times will we seize the opportunity to love our neighbor through kind deeds and assistance?
Detachment from trial and tribulation begins to become so commonplace that one's ability to carry his or her cross naturally grows as a result. All of this will happen if we are willing to ~ by faith ~ replace fear with preparation.
Be not afraid....
Saint John Paul II, pray for us!