Advent’s Call to Faith, Not Fear (358)

This is the great deed, ordained by our Lord God since before time began by which he shall make all things well. For just as the blessed Trinity made all things out of nothing, so the same blessed Trinity shall make good all that is not well. – Dame Julian

A few years ago, when I was going through a pretty tough time, a friend sent me a note that read: “In the end, everything will be all right. If everything isn’t all right, then it’s not the end.” His words convicted me. I had to ask myself: Did I really believe the things I say when I preside at the Eucharist? If I believe those words to be true, and if I act on them, then the consequences for the way I live each day are profound. If the people, things, and circumstances of my life are on an unstoppable arc toward being made right; and, if that arc is propelled and steered by God, then I’m set free from my recurring and obsessive need to control the details of my life. I’m liberated from my compulsion to seek my own security before I do anything else. I’m free instead to be faithful.

Of course, it’s not always easy to live out this Gospel truth in our lives. The craving to hold on, to watch our backs, and to maintain a vise-like grip on our own security is at the heart of the self-declared rugged individualism of our culture. It’s at the root of the false lessons we learn daily; the rhetoric of self-protection and security that bombards us in all media. Such an atittude leads us to give only a polite nod to God’s providential care for our lives. Faith has its place, we confess, but then we actually live our lives as if things will be made right only when we forcibly make them right from our perspective. Such thinking is fear-based, not faith-based. Now, that’d be an absurd thing for me to write, except for one thing: Jesus is Lord. God became human in a manger, then became a servant. He dined with sinners and washed his follower’s feet. God so loved the world as Jesus reach out from the cross seeking to draw everyone into his saving embrace.

Yet, we ought to be clear about the Gospel’s distinction. It isn’t between fatalism and self-determination. Rather, it’s between the way of Jesus and the way of fear that pervades our culture. God doesn’t call us to abandon life’s concerns. God rather calls us to live life passionately: To do the work we’ve been called to do, to eat and drink with friends, to rest and play, to love and be loved. But God calls us to do all of those things living the Gospel’s truth. That means our futures are secure, not because of the quality of our educations, or the size of our investment portfolios, or how many guns we own desperate to allay our fears, but because Jesus has defeated sin and death. The Gospel proclaims this truth is governed not by cause and effect, but by cross and resurrection.

So, this Advent, let’s live passionately bold lives. Let’s not try to create some more room in our hearts for Jesus. Let’s give our hearts to Jesus. Let’s not try to find some more time for compassion. Let’s learn to live compassionately. Let’s not try to live more peacefully. Let’s become peacemakers. Let’s not try to forgive one another. Let’s learn to embody forgiveness as a way of life. Jesus came over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem to set us free from the consequences of our sin. That means this will always be true: “In the end, everything will be all right. If everything isn’t all right, then it’s not the end.”



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