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Thursday, August 23, 2018

     “By night I pondered in my heart, and my spirit asked: Will the Lord reject forever, and will he be favorable no more? Or will he cut off his mercy unto the end? Has he brought an end to his word from generation to generation? Or will the Lord forget to be merciful? Or in his wrath will he shut up his compassions? And (then) I said: Now have I begun; this change is of the right hand of the Most High. I remembered the works of the Lord; for I will remember your wonders from the beginning…” (Ps 76: 6-11, Septuagint-translation)

     The above-listed questions or fears sometimes kept the Psalmist up at night; fears based on the uncertainty of the future. But then he would re-focus and re-affirm his faith, by “remembering” the good works of the Lord, Who always took care of...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

     “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

     “The Lord is my light and my saviour; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?” (Ps 26/27: 1, Septuagint-translation)

     The opposite of fear is not courage, or self-confidence, but faith. When some form of fear or anxiety rears its ugly head in my heart, like the fear of financial insecurity, of human opinion, of abandonment and being alone, of “failure” or “success,” – it’s a tap on the shoulder, telling me that I’ve slipped away from God-reliance; I’ve lost sight of His loving presence in my life and my world. 

     So I need to hurry back into His hands, in some heartfelt prayer, letting His grace liberate me from the crippling effects of fear. Because God’s grace, – His “energies” of mercy, love, and Sel...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

And we have come to know and believe (ἐγνώκαμεν καὶ πεπιστεύκαμεν) the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness (παρρησίαν) in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear (φόβος) in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves/has torment (κόλασιν ἔχει). But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love him because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4: 16-19)

It is one thing, merely to say, “God is love.” It is quite a different thing, to “come to know” and also to come to “believe,” that God truly loves “us,” specifically you and me, and to trust in that love through our ups and downs. What St. John is saying here...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

“…And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon (Peter), ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be a...

Monday, March 27, 2017

In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and he leaves his children a support. The commandment of the Lord is a fountain of life; and it causes men to turn aside from the snare of death.” (Prov 14: 26-27, Septuagint-translation)

“Fear” is a life-giving, God-given gift, essential for survival. It is an evolved capacity in the human being, so science tells us. But like other God-given gifts and drives, which I inherently have as a human being, fear becomes harmful to me when it is divorced from God; when it is not “of God” and takes on a life of its own. Inherent, human fear in a life not God-focused is crippling, existential anxiety in the face of the many uncertainties and ambivalences that are part-and-parcel of any human life.

In the fear of the Lord,” I am reminded as I begin the f...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

“…Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Now you are dismissing your servant in peace, O Master, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Lk 2: 27-32)

The hymns and prayers of the feast of The Presentation/Meeting of the Lord, celebrated today according to the “New” Calendar, make a big deal of Simeon “seeing” the Lord as Simeon did. The elder saw the child physically, with his eyes, and also recognized and accepted Him in his heart, as the Saviour of all peoples: “My eyes have...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their fear (τὸν δὲ φόβον αὐτῶν μὴ φοβηθῆτε), and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear…” (1 Pet 3: 13-16)

Now why would I “fear” or “be intimidated,” if I’m doing “what is right”? Because of people-pleasing. I easily get all entangled in the fears and expectations of other people, if in my heart I lose sight of my One, primary authority; if I cease actively to “sanctify Christ as Lord” in my heart.

Let me stay focused today, and remember Who’s Boss a...

Friday, September 30, 2016

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him... One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Lk 23: 32, 39-43)

On that Friday almost two millennia ago, the repentant criminal accepted “the same sentence” of condemnation as all of us who have been “condemned justly,” and “for our deeds.” Christ Himself acce...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with fear (ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα). But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear (μὴ φοβεῖ...

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