Matthew 12: 38-42
"Fear not, stand your ground!"
Those are God’s words. Encouraging and comforting words. Nothing like having God on our side! But, in moments of fear we focus only on what we are facing. Our view of a situation often narrows and focuses exclusively on the problem. And the problem itself often excludes any solution. The Lord of the Israelites through Moses tries to broaden the outlook of the people. They are reminded they were not set free from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, fed miraculously in the desert, given water to drink and lead to the shore of the Dead Sea, and now are going to be abandoned and killed. Their Lord and God is not about to abandon them. There is a solution.
While many of us will gladly agree that the Israelites are suffering from fear leading to loss of memory and trust in their Lord and God, we may also recall such moments in our lives. The challenges all of us experience from time to time also find us fighting fear and loss of memory and trust.
Death is something all of us will ultimately face. But…not now! To put my life in God’s hands and yet deny God any partnership in my death is to lose an important part of the whole picture. A balance is called for. I try each day to thank God for the gift of the new day. And right after that to say "yes" if this is the day I will die. But I don’t want to lose the whole picture that is given to me. I am not abandoned! Finally, I am invited to step across the threshold of eternity and enter eternal life with the joyful reunion with my parents, extended family members, and friends.
Once in a while I find myself thinking of how I am going to die. Pain may be a part, even a big part, of my exit from this life. But I feel that death isn’t something I want to ignore or hide from, no matter what the circumstances. I don’t want to live with blinders on and end up blotting out Jesus’ words, "I am with you always," along with the invitation, "Do you want to talk about it?"
We all are encouraged to ask ourselves from time to time: "Am I afraid to face up to fears and doubts that arise in the course of daily life?" "Do I forget to thank my close friends, beginning with Jesus, with whom I can share these fears and doubts and not lose the whole picture? "Fear not, stand your ground."
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.