Saturday, March 25, 2017

"Be Not Afraid" on the Feast of the Annunciation

The Knights and Dames of Malta joined us for a Lenten Morning of Recollection at the Seminary this morning.  Here is the Homily I preached at Mass.

What are you afraid of?

What is a seminarian most afraid of?  That they will throw you out before breakfast?  That I will not turn out to be the super-priest I thought I’d be?  That my friendships will fall apart?  That I won’t be able to stuff all that stuff into my head?  That they’ll laugh at me?  That maybe this is not what God is calling me to?

And what is a Knight or Dame of Malta most afraid of?  That their children will get in trouble?  That I’ll not have the strength or the grace to provide the example I think I should be?  That I will get cancer or have a heart attack or start to pass a kidney stone during this Mass?  That my spouse will get sick and die before I do?  That my faith will grow cold? 

That’s probably enough for this time of the morning.  But we are afraid.  No matter our age or our station in life.  We tremble deep inside.  Every one of us.  On a regular basis. 

We suffer anguish over the things that wake us up at two in the morning.
We are distressed by the things that assault us throughout the day.
We are persecuted by those who resent or just don’t trust us.
We hunger for love and fulfillment and hope.
We are naked, when we come into this world and when we leave, and desperately try to clothe ourselves with artifice in between.
We bleed from the slings and arrows and don’t always see them coming.

OK, now that’s enough for this time of the morning.  Forgive me, I’m Irish, and I love  doing this.

But we fear.  Like the Mother of God.  We all know the first words of he Angel to Mary: "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”  But did you notice what his second words to her was?  “Be not afraid, Mary!”

Why?  Because she was scared half to death by an angel coming to tell her that she was to be the Mother of the Christ!  She was petrified, just as we are so often petrified in the face of the presence of God.

But, be not afraid!  For God smiles on us in our foolishness, like a knowing parent looking down at a three year old, and he loves us.

Loves us so much that he sends his Son.  Loves us so much that he wills him to carry our death down into the grave, rising triumphant (taking us with him) interceding at his father’s right hand for his friends, for his brothers.

For we are sisters and brothers of Christ and the daughter and sons of the Eternal Father, sealed with the Holy Spirit, made a Royal Priesthood by our Baptism, tasked with joining the fears and the joys, the hopes and failures of our lives with the perfect sacrifice offered on that Altar for our salvation.

So what have we to fear?  What can harm?

Nothing and No One.

Just listen to the angel, and be not afraid!