There’s a story, about Bishop Latimer of England, preaching when King Henry VIII was present in his church…and he knew the King wouldn’t like what he had to say; so, he started his sermon by speaking to himself, “Latimer, Latimer, Latimer, be careful what you say, King Henry VIII is here”, and he continued, ‘Latimer, Latimer, Latimer, be careful what you say, the King of Kings is here!” Christ the King tells us, ‘Don’t be afraid because I am with you; and you my friend, are full of my love, my grace; I will take care of you.’ Jesus knows us so well, that He calls our attention to the baggage of fear we carry with us daily. We don’t like to admit it, but we can probably all agree, that we’re afraid of something, in our lives. Regardless of what we are afraid of; it’s most likely related to the fact, that we desperately want to be in control of our lives—or the lives of someone else; and the truth is: we’re not in control of anything! The sooner we realize that; the sooner we’ll make our lives easier. It’s been said that professional counselors would go broke, if we, in need of their services, would simply turn over our fears to Jesus—the Divine Counselor—and let Him take care of it for us. We spend entirely too much time worrying and planning for things, that we have no control over—matters that are out of our hands. We lose too much sleep re-running a missed opportunity, or a big mistake—that is gone—and we can’t bring back—there are no “do-overs”. We would solve our sleepless nights, if we turn it over to Jesus; turn over on our bed, and go to sleep. He has promised that He will take care of all our worries, concerns, and problems. All He asks us to do—is cooperate with Him—to let HIM, be God.
Don’t worry, He tells us, be happy! If there’s anyone we can believe, trust, and depend on, it’s Jesus! He tells us this, in the secret times we spend with Him in prayer; when we read the gospel, and listen to the Church’s teaching on Christ’s message; when we praise, adore, and honor Him with Holy Fear—that is—the Reverence that he deserves. This is us, cooperating with Him; saying “Yes” to Him; trusting Him so that we’re not afraid. This is the peace and freedom that we enjoy when we ‘rest in Him’. What’s there to be afraid of? Are we afraid of the person that doesn’t look, speak, or think like us? Are we afraid, that someone will have something, we don’t? If we would only remember, that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the persons we’re afraid of. If we would only remember, that Jesus would not leave us alone, under any circumstances, after he suffered and died on the cross for us. But, God’s complaint is that, “We will not!” And, that he says, can get us into a lot of trouble—more than someone looking to kill us.
We have to admit that we’re good at getting ourselves in trouble—we’ve had a lot of practice at it! We’ve heard it many times, here, before: ‘God does not condemn us—we condemn ourselves’! If we’re going to be afraid of anything, it should be how we hurt ourselves. Jesus tells us, ‘to love Him and one another—and we will not’! He tells us to heal the sick, and feed the poor—and we will not! It’s like we don’t believe Jesus, when He tells us: ‘whatever good or bad we do to one another—we do it to Him.’ We don’t really believe Him, if we fail to see Him in the faces of the poor. We’re all poor in one way or another: poor finances, poor health, poor housing—rich on the outside, but poor in compassion, mercy, generosity. The only good poverty there is, Jesus tells us, is that shown by those who are “poor in spirit.” Those among us, that in humility, know that we are nothing without God; we know we have nothing, if God doesn’t give it to us. Even those of us with legislative power, would not have the power, to hurt and deprive others of their God-given, every-day, human rights of Medicaid and Food Stamps—if God did not give us the power. For us to permit the abuse of our neighbors, with our voting power, or lack of it…is to know how we hurt ourselves—when we offend the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That, Jesus tells us, is what we should be afraid of, or it will not end well for us.
There are things God tells us in secret, he wants us to say, and do in public. This week, we may want to remember the prayer, that helps us determine what those things are—especially when it comes to universal healthcare: God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; and wisdom to know the difference.