Fear No One
Today we return to Ordinary Time… and green vestments. The drama of Pentecost, the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ the profundity of Trinity have all passed; now our prayer yields to the natural rhythm of the common, the usual — ordinary time.
Each Sunday is a day of rest, joy, triumph… We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, just as the Israelites on their Sabbath commemorated their liberation from Egyptian slavery. Yet Israel was told not to forget their slavery…and for Christians, we keep the crucifix before us, for the cross, too, is a kind of TAPESTRY, with the threads of VICTORY and MOURNING woven together tightly.
In the first Canto of his Inferno, Dante cries
In the middle of my life journey
I found myself in a dark wood.
I had wandered from the straight path.
It isn’t easy to talk about it:
It was such a thick, wild and rough forest
that when I think of it, my fear returns…
At one point or another, most people go through a period of sadness, trial, loss, frustration, or failure that is so disturbing and long-lasting, that it can be called a Dark Night of the Soul (St. John of the Cross, 16th c. Spanish mystic). Today’s readings offer us a kind of guide.
If your main interest in life is health, or comfort, convenience or pleasure, you may quickly try to overcome the darkness. But if you are looking for meaning, character, personal substance, you discover that a dark night has important gifts for you. Today’s readings remind us that every human life is made up of the light and the dark. the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How we think about this rhythm makes all the difference. Will I hide out in self-delusion, distracting entertainment? Am I willing to embrace the mystery?
Depression is a psychological malady; the dark night is a spiritual trial. Today’s liturgy challenges us to shift from a therapeutic to a faith model. Perhaps this also offers us a guide for dwelling in our 21st century world, a world saturated with violence and fear.
Many people think that the point in life is to solve their problems and be happy. But happiness is a fleeting sensation, and we never get rid of problems. Maybe my purpose in life is to become more of who I am, more engaged with the people and life around me now…to really LIVE life. May sound obvious, yet many people spend their time avoiding life. When we are afraid to let life flow through us, our vitality can get channeled into ambitions, preoccupations, addictions.
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known…”
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is a member of Christ the King Community in Citrus Heights, California.