I am being visited again this morning by Jean Vanier through his book, “Be Not Afraid.” My paperback copy is falling apart and I must consider getting a new one. (It is still available through Amazon if you are interested). I’ve read my copy so many times that the binding has broken and the pages are loose, but the content remains as solid as it did when first written in 1975. Indeed, the words may be more alive today than ever before because so many of us are afraid. That fear has been fueled by xenophobia, bigotry, misinformation, and conspiracy theories in recent days. Vanier’s prophetic statement has become reality in today’s America: “Our political and economic structures [now] reflect our inner fears.”
I believe fear leads us into our darker shadows as human beings and materializes into unbridled hate and scorn for all those things and peoples we fear. Vanier hits the nail on the head when he writes, “Love seems impossibly distant” when people are afraid. Perhaps this is why Jesus (who some of us believe represents “Love at the heart of all things”) said to many of those he encountered, “Be Not Afraid!” Do not be afraid to love! But we are afraid. Can’t you see this in our present divide? Can’t you hear it in the current rhetoric in both camps? We are afraid to love!
“Our universe,” writes Vanier, “is a wounded universe, divided, suffering, with great despair and poverty, where there are many signs of death, division and hatred. But all of these signs of death are taken up in the Cross of Jesus and transfigured in the Resurrection. Our hope is that the winter of humanity will gradually be transformed to the bursting forth of love, for it is to this that we are called.”
When we are afraid we can’t really love, or trust, or believe, or hope. Our deepest inner yearning is to be lovers, to be brothers and sisters one with another (we were made for this) but our fear prevents it. Through Jean Vanier’s visit this morning, “He (Jesus) walks with me and he talks with me,” and he says, “I am here, I am with you, all of you, who are yearning to love. Be not afraid. Be not afraid to love.”
|The coast of Maine, off Portland Head--2016|