Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No Fear in Love

I very much enjoy this section of reading from the First Letter of John that is used for today's liturgy:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.

John is known for writing about love and keeping the commandments. His writing is, at times, redundant, but this is a nice twist to reflect upon. I often preach that "fear is not faith," but this is a different slant. It is true that one who loves does not fear, but we too often find ourselves in fear during life. I think of all the times when I've been fearful and it is true that those were the times when I did not trust. I guess I can say that I did not love perfectly either.

Fear has a grip on many people because those are the times when someone gossips, creates dissension, seeks to harm others, and tears unity apart. Unfortunately, I see it far too often in the fabric of people's lives. Then I also see the way remarkable men and women try to unify, create something beautiful, promotes freedom, and consoles those who are hurt. It really is about putting the concerns of others before one's own.

Coupled with the Gospel reading from Mark 6:45-52, when Jesus walks on water, it is interesting that the last lines are:

They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

Even after the disciples saw such a wondrous event, their hearts were hardened against Jesus. This arises out of fear, and the words of Jesus to them were, "Take heart. It is I, do not be afraid." Even with these trust-building and consoling words, the disciples were unable to love enough to banish theirs fears.

Many times we ascribe various motives to someone who stands against us. We try to figure out what they will do next and what we will say to them. If we can look upon them and see their great fear, I think our stance towards them will soften. If we can find a way to love them a little more thoroughly so that their fear is lessened, perhaps antagonism will cease.

I find this passage today revelatory and I will think on it more. Of course, I will pray too.