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Come and See!
Holy Trinity, Week of May 26, 2024


The Word…

 

“Brothers and sisters:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God

are children of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear”

(from Rom 8:14-17).

 

(Note: We have returned to the “Come and See “ format until Advent.)

 


Pondering the Word …

A spirit of slavery to fear: a provocative phrase. Fear—any type of fear—can enslave us. Existential fear, the fear of non-being and death; the fear of being vulnerable or not in control; FOMO—the fear of missing out on something important.

For the past nine years, Chapman University has been surveying random Americans to identify their top ten fears: https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2023/10/20/the-top-10-fears-in-american-2023/. I can’t speak to the statistical accuracy of this survey, and the information is more “gee whiz” research than anything actionable, but it’s still interesting to see how these rank in terms of what each of us would define as our fears.

It is not surprising that most of the fears people cite in this study have to do with lack of control: distrust of governments, war and terrorism, illness or death of loved ones. I’m sure if we were to survey persons in war-torn and violent areas, their fears would be more immediate and very real: starvation, death, destruction. I try to imagine what it would be like to go from living a secure and comfortable life to living in survival mode—in  poverty, or in the face of drones, missiles, and snipers.

The slavery that is fear is pervasive these days. The antidote: Faith and hope in God’s will and God’s unconditional and unending love and mercy.
 


Living the Word …

What you fear may not be top of mind, but if you dig deep, you will likely uncover one or two things you fear.  And, as the survey indicates, lack of control might be at the heart of them. Several readings this week juxtapose what it means to live in a world with the reality of evil and fear versus living in the world God envisions for us.

Take some time to reflect on these readings, and how much fear impacts your life—there’s a reason why the most oft-used phrase in Scripture is some version of “Do not be afraid!” Talk honestly to Jesus about what you fear and let him comfort and reassure you with his promise in today’s Gospel: “I am with you always.”

Do not fear your fear. Own it. Free it. This isn’t a liberation that I or anyone can give you—it’s a power you must look for, learn, love, lead and locate for yourself” (Amanda Gorman).
 


Mon, May 27: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope” (1 Pt 1:3-9). Reflection/Provision: This verse lays out a “cause and effect” scenario. We live in hope due to the new birth we experience through God’s great mercy. Our hope rests on the foundation of God’s mercy. Sounds simple, I guess, but I wonder how many of us take this to heart: God’s great mercy for me, just as I am? If you struggle to live in hope, you might want to take a look at how you view God’s mercy in your life. For you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” (Is 43:4). Hear God say these words to you.

Tue, May 28: “It was revealed to [the prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you with regard to the things that have now been announced to you” (1 Pt 1:10-16). Most of the prophets lived on the run, at times, fearing for their lives. Yet they understood God’s promise was for “a future full of hope,” not for them but for the generations to come. Reflection/Provision: My own fears center on the world we are leaving for future generations. Will there be enough for all? Will we be a more compassionate species? Like the prophets, God calls me to trust and to hope in the Good News. Pray today for the audacity to live in hope. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own” (Bishop Ken Untener).

Wed, May 29: The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid” (Mk 10:32-45). Why were the disciples afraid? “It is becoming clear that discipleship is not about following Jesus’ teaching but about following Jesus’ example and being willing to endure the consequences of living according to God’s will” (From The Jerome Biblical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century, 2022, p. 1268). Reflection/Provision: I like to think I try to follow Jesus’ teachings, but I don’t often consider if I really follow Jesus’ example. Clearly, I don’t live a life of material poverty, but I believe God calls us where we are in the life we have been given. Do I welcome everyone as Jesus welcomes everyone? Do I let people I love walk away to make their own decisions, as Jesus does in Monday’s gospel? Am I willing to confront hypocrisy? Am I willing to be criticized or mocked without responding in kind? Spend some time today considering not just Jesus’ words but his actions. Which actions are the hardest for you to follow? Talk to Jesus about this and ask him to help you to find the courage to follow him, not in what you say but by what you do.

Thu, May 30: They call to [Bartimaeus], “Take heart, arise, he calls to you.” Throwing off his mantle, he came to Jesus. Jesus said, “What do you wish that I might do for you?” “Rabbouni, that I might see again” (Mk 10:46-52, literal translation). There is one word in this translation that, to me, makes a difference: “again.” Bartimaeus wants to see “again.” He knows what he is missing. Reflection/Provision: We remember, in Jesus’ time, people looked at ailments or poverty as a sign of God’s displeasure, either with the person afflicted or their parents. Bartimaeus loses his sight during his own lifetime. Imagine the shame he feels. But he throws off the cloak of his shame when Jesus calls to him. There may be times when we think God is absent, punishing us for some mistake or wrongdoing. We know what we are missing when we feel God is not in our lives. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. Jesus is always near, calling to us and inviting us to see his face, looking at us with love.

Fri, May 31 “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you…Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly” (Rom 12: 9-16). Reflection/Provision Looking for the checklist? Look no further! This is overwhelming, but we’re not perfect. We just need to try. Make note of things on this list others say you do well. Be joyous and give thanks for the virtues that come easily to you. Consider one or two that might need attention. Make them part of your prayer each day, asking for the grace to improve.

Sat, Jun 1: “On those who waver, have mercy, snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 17:20-25). The author is warning the Christian community: Be alert to false prophets. He uses “fear” as a word of caution about those who use God for their own devices. Reflection/Provision: Or, in Jesus’ words, “Be as innocent as doves and as shrewd as serpents,” good advice in a world where some promote hatred and violence in God’s name. Reach out in compassion and mercy to those who have doubts but be wary of those whose intentions are self-serving. A word to the wise.

 


Elaine Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life. She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental psychology and spiritual guidance.  Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children, David and Maggie.


We hope you enjoy "Come and See!" and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at ehireland@gmail.com with questions, comments, and responses, or to receive Provisions free via email.


© 2024, Elaine H. Ireland


COME & SEE ARCHIVE

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• PENTECOST •
• Easter Wk VII •
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• EASTER Wk V •
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