Saturday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 406


His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

The opposite of love is not hate but fear. In my experience more people are paralyzed by fear than motivated by hate. Revenge may be a cultural thing, a matter of pride, for some nationalities but, even without exposure to the gospel, most people get over their desire for revenge and move on with their lives. Even warring nations set aside their animosities when the war is over first to do business and then to exchange information. Carrying a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will get sick; it makes no sense on a purely human level.
What paralyzes Christians and prevents them from acting generously, even from doing what comes naturally to human beings, is fear. 
As I have met Veterans in the VA hospital, I have noticed many have no particular fear of death. Some have seen combat, many have known the violent death of close friends: they have met death face to face. It's just not a big deal. Some regret that they were not killed when their buddies died.  
I have also known widowed men and women who longed to be reunited with their spouses. As they face the future, death is only a gateway to reunion and new life. They may cringe at pain like any creature, but they understand the inevitability of death.  
I think Jesus lost his fear of death when he learned of Saint John's martyrdom. They were close relatives and close in age, friends since childhood. He had heard John's fearless preaching; and, with the Baptist, he had seen their enemies gather on the banks of the Jordan. Hearing of John's arrest he must have feared for his friend and prayed for his deliverance. Learning of his death Jesus realized his own career was careening in the same direction. 
Saint Matthew says, "When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself." (We will hear this passage on Monday.) Relieved of fear, he would emerge from that wilderness with all the greater freedom. 
The Scriptures tell us several times, "Do not be afraid." It's repeated especially often in the New Testament. We have seen in our national political discussions how fear drives stupid policies and ridiculous behavior. 
Christians who have contemplated the life and death of Jesus, who walk on the broad highway of the martyrs, have no fear of death. We invite strangers and those who pose as enemies to sit down and talk with us about our differences. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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