Love Conquers Fear

Water was not only a symbolic element for the Israelites, but it was also an integral part of society at the time of Jesus. After all, many of Jesus’ followers were either fishermen or dependent on the fishing industry for their livelihood. The local economy was heavily influenced by this industry as well. So, it is natural that many scenes reported in the Scripture take place in or near bodies of water.

One such scene takes place after the miracle of Jesus feeding of the 5,000, and we hear about it in Mark’s Gospel: “Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida…. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. But at once he spoke with them, ‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!’” (NAB MK 45-50) The disciples were afraid, perhaps afraid of the unknown, perhaps afraid of what they saw, the threat of the sea, or whatever else, but Jesus tells them not to be afraid.

There will always be unknowns and there will always be various threats to our safety, to our emotional or financial stability, to the integrity of our relationships, etc. What overcomes this fear is our trust in God, a trust fully founded in love. God loves us with an incomprehensible and infinite love, and if we are able to live in that love, we will live without fear. In John’s First Letter, we hear, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” (1JN 4:18) That is true of judgment and in all other aspects of our lives. Love conquers even our fears.

Jesus, I trust in you. Increase my trust and increase my love. Take away all my fears and doubts, as my faith grows ever stronger in your love and care for me. Allow me to abandon myself entirely to you, laying all my fears at your feet, and leaving them there as your trusting child. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.

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Beginnings

As the calendar year comes to an end, we prepare to celebrate the New Year, a new beginning. Beginnings are great opportunities for us to examine our lives and then realign them for good, to make us physically healthier, to improve our finances, to make spiritual progress, to build on our relationships, and to generally make our world a better place. Today, as we prepare for these new beginnings, the Gospel of John reminds us of what should be the foundation for starting anew:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life…. The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. … From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace.” (NAB, JN 1:1-4, 14, 16)

Jesus makes all things new! He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. As we prepare to make changes in our lives, let’s make sure He is at the very foundation of what we do. Let’s make sure that Jesus is the reason, the basis, the purpose, and the ultimate end of all of our good resolutions for a New Year.

Lord, Jesus, you who are the Beginning, give me wisdom as I celebrate a new beginning, a new year given to me as a gift from you. You make all things new. Make me a good steward of what you have given me. In this upcoming year, give me the courage and insight to make choices that glorify you, and lead me according to your will, that I may fulfill the purpose of my calling in this life. Amen.

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Rejoice & Be Glad!

JOY TO THE WORLD; THE LORD IS COME! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing. He rules the world with truth and grace! (Lyrics from Joy to the World)

Today, we truly rejoice as we celebrate the birth of our Savior from the Virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem, the “House of Bread.” He, who is the Bread of Life, the Bread come down from Heaven, humbled himself and came to save us as one of us. Jesus is the Sacrificial, Unblemished Lamb who takes away the sins of the world; blessed are we who are called to his table. Blessed are we who have received His grace, we who live in faith and in the light of his love. Jesus Christ is the light, the true light that came into the world, dispelling all darkness, enlightening the People of God! Jesus Christ, the New Adam, perfected Salvation History, and began a New Reign in the Kingdom of God. We have been called to receive this child, the Word of God, who humbled himself, to be one with us, now in this life, and eternally in the life to come.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. … The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, th3 glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. … From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” (NAB, JN 1:1-18)

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father, we worship You, we give You thanks, we praise You for Your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; You are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

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