Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Augustine’s early life was colored with wild times and reckless living. His mother, Saint Monica prayed fervently for his conversion to a better way of life. After his conversion, Augustine went on to become a renowned theologian and prolific writer. He was also a skilled preacher and eloquent speaker. I think it took a lot of courage for Augustine to be open to and accept God’s plan for his life. This journey to a whole new way of life must have been fearful and daunting as he accepted Christianity which was so dramatically different from his early life.
It seems to me that we have two examples of how fear can be good or not so good in our readings today. We have Augustine who, while he may have wrestled with the angst that fear played in his life, was able to replace it with faith and believe that the journey he was immersed in would lead to good. On the other hand, we hear in today’s gospel about the man who was given one talent which he buried in fear of his master, resulting in a severe reprisal from his master. In this way, this servant did not act in faith, trusting that this talent had the potential to make life better for himself and his master.
For almost two years now our country has lived with Covid-19 and now a new variant Delta. We have lived in fear of illness and death, of change, and the inconvenience that comes along with our changing world. We are living in fear in our neighborhoods, churches, schools, families and communities besot by violence from outside and inside factors. People are afraid to attend church, go grocery shopping, enjoy social activities, send their children to school. Fear seems at times to have a crippling effect on all of us!
If we are people of faith, we must ask ourselves, how can we move beyond paralyzing fear to healthy fear that enables us to live as Jesus calls. The acclamation found in the gospel of John today gives us the directive we need:
“I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”
Our faith in a loving God leads us to embrace a healthy sense of fear which leads us to confront those paralyzing fears that are keeping us hostage in our churches, family, community and world. Let us take the initiative to organize that block party to reconnect with our neighbors. Let us join the racial solidarity for justice committee and actively work for justice for all people. Let us gather as a family, both domestic and church, to listen to each other and support one another as we put aside unhealthy fears and welcome the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our sisters and brothers in Christ.
May our journey from fear to new life be enriched with these words of Saint Augustine
“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”
Saint Augustine, pray for us!
Theresa Secord recently retired as a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.