Do not be afraid!

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. -

No less than three times did Our Lord tell his apostles in today’s Gospel reading not to be afraid. (Mt. 10: 26-33). “Fear no one.” (v. 26). “And do not be afraid...” (v. 28). “So do not be afraid...(v. 31). How can we miss the point that for as long as we accept and commit ourselves to God’s love, there is absolutely nothing to fear!

In God’s design for mankind, the spiritual core of every human person is meant to be love. And the lifelong process of actualization is nothing less than the growth and perfection of one’s love. This is the primal and ultimate law of God, as we have known in all the four Gospels.

As described in their classic work, Healing Love. How God Works Within the Personality by psychologists E. Shostrom and D. Montgomery, this love from one’s spiritual core radiates into four affective polarities: love, anger, strength, and weakness. An actualizing person can express these polarities according to what is needed and appropriate. For instance: love as compassion for our poor fellowmen; anger as confrontation with caring toward violators of human rights; strength as courage under persecution; and weakness as humility and vulnerability.

But all this is easier said than done. Practically all of us in some way or other experienced forms of basic anxiety, insecurity, and fear when we were growing up. It could come from a number of factors — like not feeling loved enough, affirmed, etc. To cope with this, a person could develop a coping or defense mechanism in order not to feel hurt again. This happens when one “gets stuck” in any one of the four affective polarities as a way of feeling secure and acceptable. Fear at one’s core, not love.

One who gets stuck in the strength polarity is what our authors call “the Striving Christian.” He/she is forever busy and constantly on the go. “Isn’t it a great virtue to burn oneself out for the kingdom of God? Don’t we praise the person who weathers every storm, overcomes every temptation, and always has the victory?” The burden of perfectionism, coming from one’s inner core of fear.

Another can get stuck in the weakness polarity, “The Helpless Christian.” He/she suffers from infantile and dependent behavior, and sees God as the Great Rescuer, and so stays helpless and continually waits for God’s help. Or one is overwhelmed by the bigness of God and one’s smallness that “there is nothing else to do except sit shaking in one’s boots in his presence.” Fear paralyzes growth.

On the other hand, the person who gets stuck on the anger polarity is “The Critical Christian,” habitually blaming and attacking others as a way of not being hurt, which he/she must have suffered from in the past. “Being hurt is the Critical Christian’s greatest fear.”

Lastly, the person who gets stuck in the “love” polarity is “The Compliant Christian,” forever pleasing and placating as a way of being acceptable to others. “What one does not see is that in living up to everyone else’s expectations and demands, one sacrifices one’s own individuality and originality.”

Thus, the process of actualization is a liberation from being stuck - from a core of fear to one of love. To love, to stay in love, and to grow in love.

And the authentic role-model of a fully-actualized Christian is none other than the human Christ himself. Let us single out just some incidents in his life:

Love: Compassion. Christ cures the sick and feeds the five thousand (Mt. 14: 13-21); he raises to life again the widow’s son (Lk. 7: 11-17).

Anger: Confrontation With Caring. He drives away from the temple the money-changers and sellers who were taking advantage of the poor (Mt. 21: 12-17); he strongly denounces the Scribes and Pharisees in no uncertain terms (Mt. 23: 13-39).

Strength: Courage. He is most calm and fearless before Herod and Pilate (Lk. 23: 1-12), and before the Sanhedrin (Mk. 14: 53-65); he carries the cross with loving heroism till the very end (Lk. 23: 26-46).

Weakness: Humility. Christ’s Agony in the Garden (Mt. 26: 36-55), and his total vulnerability. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt. 27: 45-50).

When everything is said and done, Love Conquers All. Do Not Be Afraid!

(The Jesuit Vocation Promotions Team invites male college students and young professionals to a Vocation Seminar. It will be held on July 13, 2008, Sunday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at 2/F CLC Bldg., Ateneo de Manila University, Q. C. For more details, please contact the Jesuit Vocation Promotions Office, tel. 426-6101, or mobile no. 0917-537-8487, or e-mail at sjvocations @jesuits.ph. You can also visit the website of the Philippine Jesuits at www.jesuits.ph.)





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