Fear and Judgment

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Do not be afraid,” He said, as the wind whipped across the sea, and the boat tossed back and forth in the waves. “Take courage.”

We believe that the man who walked on the Sea of Galilee will judge everyone with divine justice. So Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid,” sounds like St. John exhorting us: “Have confidence on the day of judgment.”

Now, I think it’s fair to say: The disciples in that boat feared drowning. Because they feared the Day of Judgment. The full revelation of the truth convicts the guilty. Sinners legitimately fear that.

As we read, those disciples did not understand the miracle of the loaves and fishes. They did not understand the miracle of divine love. They feared, because they had sinned.

“Perfect love casts out fear.” This does not mean: presuming on God’s mercy, as if God will pretend that my sins haven’t happened, or that they aren’t sins. “Perfect love casts out fear” does not mean: Forget about God’s punishments for the real sins we have actually done.

But, by the same token: The greatest sin involves despairing. Despairing of God’s omnipotent loving kindness.

He got in the boat, and the waves calmed. The moment came for the disciples in that boat to begin to live in the truth. They had not understood before. But now they did. This is God, this man. God loving us, offering us infinite mercy and refreshment.

So we can honestly, fearlessly accuse ourselves. Yes, I have done this. Yes, I have failed to do that. A little Day of Judgment, conducted by my own conscience, which finally has a quiet moment to speak to me.

And I face it with confidence. Perfect love casts out fear. God knows the truth better than I do. He does not pretend that my sins never happened, or that my sins aren’t sins. But: He forgives me for them.

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Too Cold for School

SA182The Snow Man, by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

[…Here’s a little homily I would have given the chillens today, but for the school-canceling chill. I had my chalk at the ready to 20 C + M + B 14 all the classroom door lintels.]

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son. (I John 4:10)

When our need for a Savior was great, God sent His Son, born of a virgin.

Is Christmas over? In church, Christmas lasts for almost three weeks. The shepherds came to visit the baby, and who else? The wise men.

wise-menThe wise men were wise about the stars. They found Jesus by following the… The wise men also were wise about knowing their need for a Savior was great. They beheld the great love of God—not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us and sent His Son to save us.

Anybody get any presents? Anybody eats any cakes or pies or Christmas cookies? I got some Christmas cookies, and they were delicious, and now they are all gone. And pretty soon, even in church, someone will take down the Christmas decorations.

But: There is one thing about Christmas that does not end. The fact that God loved us. And sent us His Son to wash away our sins and give us life. The wise men, wise as they were, were wise enough to know that they needed Christ. The wise men were wise enough to know that they were not wise enough to save themselves. Let’s be that wise, too. Let’s dedicate 2014 to letting Jesus love us and lead us closer to heaven. He does not ask for perfection. He simply asks for daily obedience.

After all, Jesus looks at us, and—what do we read?—He looks at us, and His Heart is moved with pity. He loves us, teaches us, feeds us. At Christmas and all year long.

The victory that conquers the world is our faith

earth1 John 5:4

In the New Testament and in the prayers of the Church, the word “world” can mean different things.

In this verse of St. John’s first letter, the word “world” refers to the fallen state of humanity, to the web of sin, deception, corruption, and evil into which we are all born.

Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit. He is the Messiah, the One who conquers evil and liberates mankind. He has come from outside of the world and entered the world—not to destroy it, but to heal it and make it into what it is meant to be.

christ-synagogue1By virtue of the sacraments of Christian initiation, we are united with Christ’s grace. By being baptized, confirmed, and nourished with the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, we become members of the Body of the Anointed One, and we share in His work.

The sacraments of faith change our relationship with the world. Christ has conquered sin, evil, the Devil. United with Him, we spend our lives on earth helping to make the world what it is meant to be.

The Lord gives us the grace to see the world in truth–to see it from the point-of-view of the Creator. God loves His world, and He works constantly for its fulfillment. Each of us has a small task to do every day, a small part to play in the work of the Savior. The job of every Christian is: To do my particular part to make the world good.

…And then: Maybe enjoy a cold one without having to get up.

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away

jobJob 1:21

First: All the members of Preacher’s family would like to thank you for praying and supporting us with divine love. Please keep praying and supporting. God provides. He is good. Blessed be the name of the Lord! Everyone is still alive, thanks be to God.

We all have to take the good with the bad, however.

You would think that the Big Daddy of Big Daddies would give some relief to His unworthy servant and blogger. After all, your scribe has been launched into A.D. 2009 in a rough and tumble manner. (A sick relative and the victim of petty larceny, among other troubles.)

Everything looked so promising on Monday, December 29…

Continue reading “The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away”