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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Why are you afraid?




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Love is silly.
The Cross is foolishness, except for the love with which it was done.
God is in love with you.  The Cross is proof of that.


When I was a kid, I knew my dad was strong.  Every once in a while I'd wrestle him around a bit and I was never any match for him.  He barely exerted any effort and had me picked up or moved around however he wanted.  But despite all that, I wasn't afraid of him.  Because I knew he loved me.
So I guess the biggest problem in our world today is that people don't know that God really loves them.  That's why they are afraid.
But how did people fall into that trap?  I don't know.  Perhaps there are hundreds of ways.  Maybe they felt their sins were too heavy to be forgiven.  Maybe they believed someone who said they need to do such and such before God will love them, and they never got around to it.  Maybe they just got too busy with life to really feel a sense of God's love, to see His fingerprints in their lives.  Perhaps they stopped going to Church, stopped praying, stopped reading Scripture, or whatever other spiritual practices they were accustomed to, and ended up losing touch with God.  But I think whatever the long version of the story is, the reality is that it all boils down to the same fundamental cause: they have taken their eyes off Jesus.  Jesus on the cross, and Jesus after the Resurrection with those glorified wounds in his body.  If we don't keep that picture of Jesus in our mind, then he turns into a pretty scare figure in the story of Revelation that we heard in the second reading, the just judge  It reminds me of this mosaic of Jesus in the basilica in Washington DC that shows Jesus really buff and looking a little angry.  Yikes.  And that's exactly what many people think God is like.  They get one aspect of God and paint it as everything.  God's desire for justice is not all of God.
God is also Mercy.  Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, established by Pope JPII.  It reminds us to refocus on who God really is - as Pope Francis famously said, the name of God is Mercy.
So the Alpha and the Omega, the one before whom we should all be terrified to see, is not a fright to us because we know he loves us.  John, the author of Revelation, falls down in fear.
When Jesus appears to the disciples, he says "Shalom," or "Peace." This word in Hebrew means the right ordering of all aspects of life, that the whole of your life is set aright, and therefore you are at peace.  Like me, I'm sick right now with a sinus infection, so one part of my body is a little off, and it affects all the rest, so my body is really not at peace.  Shalom is much more than just a physical peace.  It means every aspect of ourselves, and particularly the most important aspect, the soul, is set aright.  So we can say that Christ is the only true source of peace, because Christ is the only way we get our souls set straight.  And a huge part of that, as we discussed earlier, is knowing God's absolute love for you, no matter what.  The only peace that lasts forever is the peace of knowing we are right with God, and that peace comes from the risen Jesus Christ, who comes back not for revenge, but forgiveness.
Look at the saints who have fixed their eyes on Jesus. They were never afraid of God.  They were profoundly confident in His love for them, and they loved Him back with all they had.  May we all truly encounter the Divine Mercy of God on this second Sunday of Easter.  The Mercy that is the source of all true peace.

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