The two seem to coexist.
Even before His birth, Jesus galvanized anxiety- in His virginal mother and just and righteous adoptive father. The decision of God the Father to send the Word- His Son- in that way and precise manner consumes lifetimes of reflection. And still we barely scratch the surface.
Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many of the things that now shake and crush our lives. We would have come to terms with and judged the limits of our own competence.
But we have lived in a false confidence, in a delusional security; in our spiritual insanity we really believe we can bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believe that with our own forces we can avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believe we can harness everything and fit it into an ultimate scheme that will last.
The barely weeks old child evokes such fear in King Herod that he orders all Hebrew children under two to be massacred.
And over three decades later, the adult God-man scoffs at his disciples when told that he needs to “Leave, Herod is trying to kill you!
In a recent article, I wrote:
It is terribly difficult for us to admit—even, or perhaps especially- for those of us with faith. We are Catholics or Christians, after all, and we trust Jesus, we have faith in God the Father. We know not to fear. Argue with ourselves when we are afraid.
Last week, I was positive I had ‘it’: the sore throat, heaviness on the chest, dry cough along with feverish feelings. Did I speak with my husband about it? Of course not, I doubled up on Vitamin C, took the homeopathics that I keep on hand, and prayed, “Please don’t let me give it to John or anyone else.” I am not afraid for me but for him. Believing that to be true.
Isn’t it the fear of what happens next?
Our questions, whether atheists or believers are strangely similar:
“What if I am wrong?”
“What if I am right?”
Our collective fear is expressed powerfully in this poem from a long-ago homily by Father Chuck Durante:
This infant Child asks nothing from us and everything;
All at once.
He enters into our hearts and souls softly,
Quietly, almost without sound.
Once there, He offers peace, Life, wisdom
At no cost; just ourselves, whole, entire,
All at once.