By Tom White
The incredible span of time we witness and measured in our heavens, in our literature and in our amazing minds is breathtaking to say the least. Within all that we encounter, we are often left with the humbling view of own place in the timeline. We also are left to consider that someone much more powerful than us began “it,” sustains “it” and holds power over “it.”
It’s that same power many of us have been led not simply to respect, but deep down inside our very being, fear. Perhaps terror is a better word for some of us. “It,” we are told, is so incomprehensible that it is beyond being a mystery. It is, OMG, huge and, well, so powerful!
God began everything and everyone, and holds power over all creation. I remember being taught early in life that maybe I should consider this: If God forgets you for even a brief moment, you will cease to exist. For a period of time, my nightly prayer was very focused: God, please do not forget. This was fear beyond words.
Doing anything at all to make God angry would have dire consequences, including doubting God or somehow finding myself in a state of personal distress about life and faith.
Paralyzing guilt soon found its way into Catholics minds and hearts such that we became so selfish as to proclaim defensively, “it is not my fault.” Fear of God’s anger and our ready defense worked so well to blind us to the message of Jesus, to “Fear not.” We were deafened to the cries of the poor and sick when we judge them as being weak, and somehow, as people God, needed not to take care of since they are not our fault.
COUNSELING THE DOUBTFUL and COMFORTING THE AFFLICTED are not a matter of a fault or failing, but of searching for the “It” God created: Love. The author of Genesis reminded us once again at the Easter Vigil that God saw all that was created and said, “IT is good!”
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy may we let go of all terror of God and love those on the journey with us. May we embrace any in our midst who are looking for a fellow pilgrim to accompany them in their search for a greater meaning in life. May we let go of any selfish notion of a punishing God so we can embrace the God of mercy, forgiveness, healing and hope.