We live in a world that is at times dark and dangerous. The events of this past week in Boston remind us of this sad truth. In a moment all can change; our earthly lives can end. Deadly violence – unlooked for, unexpected, senseless and sudden.
That the world is filled with sin, violence and death is mankind’s choice, not God’s will. He permits our freedom so that we might choose what is good and shun what is evil. Yet all too often we see hatred of others and the violence visited on them perpetrated by those who claim to act in the will of God.
This week in Boston, people died, families lost loved ones, and many more were horribly injured. Although we do not yet know for sure what motivated those who planned and carried out the bombings and firefights in Boston, it appears at this time to be simple, evil hatred. And for a while, an entire metropolitan area was shut down and afraid.
We become afraid when we perceive that our lives are in danger. And for all of us, we need to ask if we are ready to meet our Maker. An unexpected and unprepared for death is to be feared.
Jesus warns us specifically about what to fear and what not to fear.
“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:28-33).
We are to fear those who can destroy both our earthly life and prevent our eternal life in heaven. Jesus reminds us that we can place our trust in God, acknowledging Jesus as Lord, and be assured that all will be well. We may lose our lives on earth, we may even suffer, but we will not lose the glorious and joyful end for which He has made us.
Throughout Sacred Scripture, we see the image of our God as the loving and caring shepherd who watches over us, His flock.
In the Gospel of John from which the gospel for Good Shepherd Sunday is taken, Jesus makes a powerful and reassuring promise to those who believe in and follow Him. No matter what may happen, if we trust Him to be our shepherd, if we do not stray from or fall away from the flock, we have nothing to fear. Evil may kill or maim the body, but nothing and no one can destroy our soul or separate us from the One who loves us perfectly.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand” (John 10:10-11, 27-28).
If you find yourself afraid following the events in Boston, if you have family and friends who are afraid, if you find that you need to reassure your children, remind yourself and them of God’s love and His promise.
St. Paul speaks so beautifully and with great clarity about being secure in the love of God.
“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
Let us remember those affected by this past week’s acts of terrorism in our prayers. And let us also remember those who were visited with unexpected death and injury in the Texas explosion.
Into the deep…
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Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ and usually appears each Sunday.
Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.
He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.
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Thank you! – The Editors